When Rackspace, an industry leader in enterprise-class hybrid cloud infrastructures, sought to increase the capability, efficiency and reliability of their data centers, they turned to the purpose-built storage solution– Fibre Channel.  They were in good company, joining industry leading enterprises such as AOL, Symantec and Legend3D, who also turned to Fibre Channel as their trusted foundation.

Founded in San Antonio in 1998, Rackspace’s operations have now expanded to include nine data centers across four continents. Rackspace combines public cloud, private cloud, and dedicated bare metal computing to tailor the ideal infrastructure for each customer’s specific needs.

Rackspace SAN Responsibilities

Provisioning, decommissioning and re-provisioning servers for various client projects keeps the Rackspace infrastructure in a perpetual state of flux, a flux that creates steep demands for the Rackspace storage area network (SAN), one which must act as the conduit between servers and storage.

With hundreds of thousands of customers that look to Rackspace to deliver the best-fit infrastructure for their IT needs-whether on the public cloud, private cloud, dedicated servers, or a combination of platforms-they decide on Rackspace to leverage a storage infrastructure that allows workloads to perform their best.

The Need for a Reliable, Scalable and Efficient Infrastructure

What Rackspace needed was a simple, efficient design for each data center that allowed them to be easily scalable to meet the rigors of their provisioning demands, as well as the reliability that their customers expect. More precisely, they needed to establish a “plug-anywhere-in-the-data-center” model, unrestricted by the physical location of hosts or connectivity platforms.

It was important that the storage infrastructure was capable of responding to unexpected customer growth, and proven to support the addition and connection of expanding storage and and/or new servers. Fibre Channel (FC) was chosen due to its ability to maximize port utilization, offer the greatest flexibility and ease deployment constraints that would help ensure Rackspace customers received the “Fanatical Support” the company has become known for.

To realize such a model, in 2012, Rackspace began outfitting their data centers with 16Gb FC, the purpose-built and proven network for storage and engineered to meet Rackspace’s high demands. At present, 16Gb FC SANs are fully deployed in eight of Rackspace’s nine data centers, with the remaining Hong Kong facility’s conversion to Fibre Channel scheduled for completion in 2014.

“For Rackspace, density and the ability to use all of our capacity is critical to our financial performance. Fibre Channel allows us higher densities, the ability to leverage the infrastructures across our customer base and more readily monetize our capital investments.”

In Part Two of this two blog series, learn more about the Business Results that Rackspace is able to archive with the use of Fibre Channel.   Also take a few minutes to browse the wealth of resources regarding the benefits of Fibre Channel available on the recently launched Knowledge Vault, hosted by the Fibre Channel Industry Association.