Brocade releases new AMP for Brocade FC SANs

In Analytics Monitoring Program, Brocade, Gen 5 FCby AdministratorLeave a Comment

Brocade just released a new Analytics Monitoring Platform for their Gen5 FC switches and directors.

New Brocade Analytics Monitoring Platform (AMP)

The new Brocade Analytics Monitoring Platform is an appliance that attaches non-disruptively and non-intrusively to Brocade Gen 5 switches and directors. AMP monitors all SCSI IO traffic from a host port, a target port, or both a host port and a storage target port across the FC fabric and provides extensive analytics and reporting capabilities on any and all IO activity.

The AMP solution comes as a 2U appliance that attaches up to 20 switches, across four different FC fabrics, monitoring up to 20K data flows and 5 million IOPS. The AMP appliance attaches to each switch or director via a single FC cable to monitor I/O activity. Once connected, the AMP system has access to all metrics for I/O activity originated from or terminated at the switch/director.

The AMP solution runs Brocade’s FOS and uses two dedicated multi-core data processors to analyze frame information, produce metrics and report on IO activity. The 2U appliance has onboard flash storage for historical logging and long term troubleshooting of I/O problems.

The AMP solution uses Brocade’s virtual tap (vTAP) software-hardware functionality to capture necessary device I/O frames to analyze I/O activity. vTAP leverages Brocade Condor 3 ASIC functionality to access and replicate the stream of SCSI commands and response information for all I/O activity originated from or terminated at the switch/director.

AMP can track any I/O activity at the LUN level throughout a switch or director’s device ports. This provides the ability for customers to examine and analyze application level I/O response times, fabric latency, I/O queue depth, I/O rates, etc. at the LUN level.

Once a base level of I/O performance is established, the AMP solution can be used to trigger alerts anytime IO performance falls below established parameters. To do this, AMP uses advanced Brocade MAPS (Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite available with Brocade Fabric Vision technology) to establish performance parameters around device I/O and provide administrator alerts if service drops below Service Level Agreement. The AMP solution can also be used to drill down and diagnose where IO problems occur throughout the fabric, from the host to the storage to get I/O activity performance within required parameters.

AMP vs. the competition

Unlike competitive solutions, Brocade’s AMP deployment is completely non-disruptive. Brocade Analytics Switch links can be attached to operating Gen 5 Brocade switches or directors completely non-disruptively and AMP vTAP access can be enabled/disabled via command and has no impact on I/O performance. AMP operates in conjunction with Brocade’s Network Advisor SAN management software to understand fabric configuration and other operational information.

Most competitive solutions require fabric disruption to tap into Brocade fabric links, i.e., each tapped link has to be disconnected and then recabled through a physical tap. This adds an additional cable to each and every FC link being monitored. For physical taps, the number of extra cables can be a significant problem. For example, to tap into 200 FC ports would require an additional 400 cables. By comparison, supporting 400 FC ports with the Brocade appliance requires only four cables.

Moreover, each physical tap consumes some amount of FC link light energy (~20-30%). This can degrade FC signaling. While this may not be a problem for short links, it can be a serious issue for longer links. The Brocade appliance takes a different approach, by using a single cable to directly connect each switch to the system’s analytics processing capabilities.

Significance

Brocade’s AMP provides a fine-grained view of all the I/O activity occurring across a single or multiple FC fabrics. The fact that it can be deployed in minutes, with minimal additional cabling, completely non-disruptively is a significant benefit when compared to competitive solutions.

Brocade says the AMP costs about half as much as competitive solutions. The price difference is derived from its extensive integration into existing Brocade Gen 5 SAN hardware and licensed software functionality.

Brocade didn’t mention using AMP in a service offering. But it would be an incredibly useful Brocade fabric diagnostic tool. Lots of storage and IT service vendors could use such a tool, especially for complex SAN environments. Being deployable in minutes makes this even more of a likely service offering.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in  August of 2015.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide so if you are interested in purchasing block or primary storage, please checkout our Buying Guide available for sale on our website. ]  

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & System consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

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