“Priceless” – that’s how one attendee described our recent FCIA webcast, “Fibre Channel SAN Workloads.” Our expert presenters, Barry Maskas, Nishant Lodha and Mark Jones, provided some great insights on how Fibre Channel delivers on reliability and performance for application workloads. If you missed it, it’s available to watch on-demand. As promised during the live event, here are answers to the questions from the presentation:

Q: What is the best way to characterize the workload characteristics of a storage network?
A: It’s important to expect that SAN workload characteristics can be unique and random, the same workload in a different company can run differently. Utilize the analytic tools from your storage, switch and host computer to create a picture of what is going on.  In some cases, third party analytic tools are also available.  Look for patterns real-time and over time for latency, IOPs, throughput and IO size.

Q: NVMe over Fabrics seems to be a hot topic lately, what should I look for in our workloads to tell if it can help me?
A: NVMe over Fabrics is available to run over Fibre Channel today with a variety of vendors adding this feature. In general, NVMe over Fibre Channel can be characterized by lower latency, increased IOPs and more efficient use of CPU resources while maintaining the fabric visibility and management characteristics that most have come to value from Fibre Channel fabrics.  If you’re looking for increased application performance, improved equipment efficiency and wish to maintain your current Fibre Channel fabric management procedures then this feature is worth looking into.

Q: Can we have name of the telemetry software which can be used for analyzing & profiling FC Fabric? is it vendor specific or generic?
A: In order to remain vendor neutral, we would recommend contacting your datacenter equipment vendor for this inquiry.

Q: Why does a Big Data vendor like Cloudera recommends 12 Gbps SAS connected to Direct Attached Storage Array instead of using Fibre Channel based shared storage?
A: We do not have a Cloudera representative here to confirm that this is their recommendation. The HDFS clustered file system used by Cloudera can use any block storage supported by the OS, including Fibre Channel connected devices.

Q: What type of applications are best suited for Fibre Channel use?
A: Applications that require particular characteristics: High and predictable performance, reliability, low latency, virtualization aware and high availability. Applications that match those characteristics are Enterprise databases, Big Data and dense virtualization servers.

Q: Why are Fabric Services important?
A: As your storage network grows the importance of knowing the identity of all the nodes and how they interact becomes critical. Only Fibre Channel has the concept of fabric services, the control plane that allows for centralized management and control of all nodes in the network.  The Name Server contains the identity of all the nodes on the SAN, zoning is used for security and access control.  This is important for the workloads to ensure ease of deployment, security and high availability.