Feb 07

Too many cables – HP Virtual Connect is here to help!

Have you got a HP blade chassis with a million connections coming from the back side pass-through interconnects, or even some sort of Cisco/HP/Brocade Network/SAN switch in there which is maxed out and you have to configure the SAN and/or Network each time you add or replace a server?  Virtual Connect Flex Fabric solves this issue.

HP Virtual Connect Flex Fabric allows one time cabling (wire-once) between the edge networks (SAN & Network), it consolidates interconnect devices at a staggering 4:1 ratio (Each Flex Fabric device can replace up to 3 Ethernet and 1 FC interconnect) and you only require 2 of these VC’s to connect your blade chassis to your network AND fibre infrastructure.

Using Flex-10 technology with multi-protocol Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE) and Accelerated iSCSI, these modules converge traffic over high speed 10 Gb connections to servers with HP FlexFabric Adapters (Converged Network Adapters, CNA). Each module provides 4 adjustable connections (3 data and 1 storage or all data) to each 10 Gb server port.

Virtual Connect uses the concepts of ‘Profiles’ (a selection of networks, FC & Ethernet based) that can be assigned to specific servers (for example, server 1 could always connect to the PROD Network and the PROD Fabric, whereas server2 connects to the DEV Network & Fabric).  The virtual connect then uses a pool of WWN and MAC (unique id’s within the IP & SAN networks) and assigns them to a specific bay.  The network & storage admins then only needs to configure their ‘side of the fence’ using these pool of WWN & MAC addresses.  If the server ever needs to be replaced it can simply be removed from the chassis, a new server installed and VC will automatically assign the WWN & MAC that were on the original server, the storage & network admins don’t need to do a thing, this makes rip & replace very easy.   You can pre-provision these profiles so any new server install is just a case of plugging it in. There is no delay waiting for networking or SAN connections to be completed. 

If you suddenly require more compute resource on your SQL service, assign a profile to a spare blade and using Boot From SAN this server can then be added to the farm of SQL servers and add its additional resources as and when required.  No complicated work to get this setup, its a simple as assigning a profile and booting it up.

Blade solutions are all about flexible infrastructure, faster deployments, & higher availability. HP Virtual Connect Flex Fabric helps deliver on all of these goals, and it would be a great advantage to any infrastructure these are deployed into.  Would I recommend it? A year or so ago, my answer would have been no, but now, definitely, there are so many positives that you gain from using these this really is a no brainer when looking at buying interconnect devices for your HP Bladesystem infrastructure.