By Dave Raffo | Oct 1, 2009
Although Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) implementations are in early days, The University of Arizona recently took the plunge with Cisco Systems Inc. Nexus FCoE switches and MDS Fibre Channel (FC) directors connected to Dell Inc. servers and EMC Corp. storage arrays.
Derek Masseth, senior director, infrastructure services at the university, estimates the institution saved more than $1 million in capital expenses, simplified cable management and saved power while upgrading to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE). In addition, Masseth said the upgrade saved him from having to add FC switching and put the university in position for potential end-to-end FCoE to the storage array down the road, although he isn't sure yet if that would be worthwhile.
As part of an overhaul of all of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that began in early 2008, the university installed 24 top-of-the-rack Nexus 5010 switches that support FCoE, and runs them though two Nexus 7010 core switches in the data center. Another Nexus 7010 switch sits in a disaster recovery site. The Nexus 5010 also connects to the school's storage-area network (SAN) through Cisco MDS 9509 FC directors. The university is using QLogic converged network adapters (CNAs) with the Nexus FCoE switches.
Masseth said the university conducted rigorous testing of Nexus 5020 switches last February, put Nexus 5010 and 7000 devices in production in June, and had them "racked, stacked and running data" in July.
The ERP project included 100 new Dell servers. "We thought, 'What would it take to support that?'" Masseth said. "We realized it might be a good time to take a look at next-generation infrastructure. That led us down the path to looking at Nexus and FCoE."
He said the university reduced capital expenses by 50% -- up to $1.2 million -- "right out of the gate" by moving to a top-of-the-rack switching architecture with Nexus 5010s, and "dramatically" simplified cable management and operational expenses. His staff projects a 30% reduction in power consumption with the new setup.
FCoE not end-to-end to storage yet
The University of Arizona has more than 300 TB of data on a variety of EMC Clariion storage arrays. Fibre Channel over Ethernet doesn't yet extend to the storage, but Masseth said consolidating his server connectivity helped him avoid having to add FC switches.