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I/O Consolidation in the Data Center

Chapter Description

This chapter explains the benefits and challenges of designing physical infrastructure to simultaneously carry multiple types of traffic.

What Is I/O Consolidation

I/O consolidation is the capability of a switch or a host adapter to use the same physical infrastructure to carry multiple types of traffic, each typically having peculiar characteristics and specific handling requirements.

From the network side, this equates in having to install and operate a single network instead of three (see Figure 1-2). From the hosts and storage arrays side, this equates in having to purchase fewer Converged Network Adapters (CNA) instead of Ethernet NICs, FC HBAs, and IB HCAs. This requires a lower number of PCI slots on the servers, and it is particularly beneficial in the case of Blade Servers.

Figure 1-2

Figure 1-2 I/O Consolidation in the Network

The benefits for the customers are

  • Great reduction, simplification, and standardization of cabling
  • Absence of gateways that are always a bottleneck and a source of incompatibilities
  • Less need for power and cooling
  • Reduced cost

To be viable, I/O consolidation should maintain the same management paradigm that currently applies to each traffic type.

Figure 1-3 shows an example in which 2 FC HBAs, 2 Ethernet NICs, and 2 IB HCAs are replaced by 2 CNAs.

Figure 1-3

Figure 1-3 I/O Consolidation in the Servers

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