by: Mark Jones, President of FCIA, Director, Technical Marketing, Emulex Corp.

Data access speeds for enterprise applications are becoming more critical; as is the need to support evolving storage requirements, which in turn is driving the deployment of Flash for tier-I storage. In order for enterprise data centers to keep pace with data-intensive workloads, the right network architecture must be implemented to prevent IO from becoming a bottleneck.

With high IO and low latency performance, complemented by optimum scalability and reliability, it is clear why storage infrastructures should be built with Fibre Channel. One of many reasons is that it’s best-suited to capitalize on emerging trends and the attachment of choice for Flash-based storage devices.

Latency and Deterministic Behavior

In today’s data storage environments, connections to low latency storage such as SSDs are on the rise. Flash-based storage requires a networking infrastructure that is deterministic with low latencies. By utilizing cut-through network architecture, and combining low latency and high performance to maximize IOPS, Fibre Channel stands alone in its ability to consistently deliver the performance storage networks need to keep pace with the accelerated IO Flash-based storage can accommodate.

 Efficiency to Deliver Value

An efficient encoding scheme further reduces overhead, adding to the value and reliability of Fibre Channel. Storage protocols that utilize TCP/IP protocol add overhead by utilizing the IP layer which creates inefficiencies that appear as lower bandwidth, lower IOPS, higher latency and increased CPU utilization.

 To improve efficiencies, Fibre Channel was designed to use the Layer 2 network protocol. This design requires less CPU utilization to encapsulate a payload than is required by storage over IP networks. Also, by utilizing an efficient encoding scheme that encapsulates data into Fibre Channel frames instead of IP packets, less overhead needs to be sent across the network.

 Increased Resiliency

Flash storage requires a networking infrastructure that is highly resilient, scales easily and is simple to manage.

 The resiliency of Fibre Channel partly comes from Fibre Channel’s exclusive diagnostic and error-correction capabilities, which monitor, analyze and identify specific data to avoid errors, reduce bottlenecks and optimize resources.

 Fibre Channel was engineered for the likes of Flash storage, hence Fibre Channel’s massive scalability. Flash storage paves the way for higher VM densities and increased server utilization if enterprises have optimally scalable SAN infrastructures in place. Fibre Channel’s scalability allows the network to adapt to rising VM densities, enabling breakthrough application performance while promoting performance-enhancing consolidation.

 With the right SAN in place, the real values of Flash storage can be realized. Fibre Channel quickens data-intensive application response times and decreases the backup, replication and recovery window for higher network constancy.


Flash storage may deliver top speed, but if the network infrastructure is not performing at the same level, the speed advantage may not be realized in real-world business transactions. Enterprises looking to realize maximum value should consider the purpose-built SAN solution ─ Fibre Channel ─ with its speed, ultra-low latency, high scalability and peerless reliability.

For a complete tech brief on this topic, please visit the interactive FCIA  Knowledge Vault, which is also full of analyst insights and entertaining and insightful stories such as a video from Legend3D on the importance of sustained performance,  that will help you deliver greater business value though your IT infrastructure.