Wednesday 30 November 2011

Switching an art in change

When will Cisco move on from the dark ages of command line and create a graphical interface that can handle all flavours of its hardware.  Or is the key to its “popularity” that it requires a specialist to handle it.  In such a way that every company of any size has one that de facto becomes the networking specialist and therefore has a say in what is purchased, upholding the status quo. 
Other platforms like 3com could be handled by any admin thanks to it realisation that we live in a windows world.  But the admin didn’t need to become a “networking specialist”, meaning didn’t need to do the dark art of programming from the command line.  And therefore was not seen as the networking guru.  It was a sad day and the beginning of the end, when 3com tried to make their interface more like  Cisco’s.  That is one thing HP should not follow up on after they bought the company.

Switching is into a revolution with the advance of blade servers.  Large companies would before merge all their standalone switches into large chassis creating a single unified unit for switching.  With the blade more of the single server connections is handled internally, and only the central part is done by a separate switch.  Here there is a task for the server vendors to have a separate but integrated choice of 10gb switches available.  And I am talking copper here.  Fiber is vulnerable to kinks  over short distances and dirt on the connections. = Best suited for longer distance communication.  Like building to building or campus to campus or longer.  For Within the room or within the floor there is nothing that beats the simplicity and the standardisation of the cats.  Though 10gb is not quite there yet when it comes to standards.  Special cables for each manufacturers equipment is not the way to go if you want your solution to spread wide.

When you do get 10gb in, you have the challenge of utilizing it.  And that include monitoring that you do reach the possible speed.  Now we are talking server to storage and racks of other media that would before have been depending on fiber for above 1gb connectivity.   Second by second monitoring is required and I can recommend Utilwatch.  You’ll be lucky if you see even 2gb/sec utilization so there is a lot to be gained for hw manufacturers in ramping up the performance of their equipment.  You can help by getting ssd disks, discussed in the article “SSD a step towards instant computing”

Since we mentioned copper versus fiber and iscsi.  Who let the fiber boys hijack the convention for iscsi node naming.  It would have been much more convenient if this was done to the ip standard rather than the complicated naming concotion of the fiber.  If copy and paste is not your friend, due to 2 separate systems with security between them, you are out with the pen&paper to transfer connection data from server to storage and vice versa.   

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