HP Virtual Connect For Dummies, 2nd Edition

HP Virtual Connect For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Overcome today’s server
connection complexity while
reducing costs and power
consumption
• Understand server networking — before
learning about HP Virtual Connect, first get
the basics
• Discover the HP Virtual Connect approach —
Virtual Connect simplifies server connections
to LANs and SANs, and any needed changes
to those connections
• Find out how easy it can be — how HP Virtual
Connect enables server administrators to
easily move workloads and to add, move,
and replace servers on the fly
• A list of reasons why Virtual
Connect will benefit your
organization
t
c
e
n
n
o
C
l
a
u
t
r
HP Vi
• A section about how Virtual
Connect really works
• How VC FlexFabric modules
eliminate up to 95 percent
of server connection sprawl
• The simple, powerful
management tools for
Virtual Connect
• Answers to your questions
on Virtual Connect
• A new chapter on converging
your IT infrastructure
Making Everything Easier! ™
Learn:
• Get the lowdown on HP Virtual Connect
benefits — all the details you need to know
to understand what Virtual Connect does
and what it can do for you
• What’s new with Virtual
Connect and all about the
new FlexFabric module
Go to Dummies.com®
• How HP Virtual Connect
simplifies your data center,
lowers costs, and saves time
for videos, step-by-step examples,
how-to articles, or to shop!
• About the HP Virtual
Connect product family
Not for resale
Client Tracking Number: 4AA3-1106ENW
ISBN: 978-0-470-90053-6
2nd Edition
Eric Butow is CEO of Butow Communications
Group, a Web design and technical marketing
firm in Jackson, California. Bill Dicke is HP Virtual
Connect Strategy Manager, working on technology
and development. John Joyal is a Product Lifecycle
Manager for HP Virtual Connect focused on
marketing and communications.
2nd Edition
Open the book and find:
HP Virtual Connect
With HP Virtual Connect, you can simplify your
server connectivity to your networks — and reduce
cables without adding switches to manage. System
administrators become self-sufficient to add or
replace servers and move workloads from one
server to another in minutes, while freeing LAN
and SAN administrators from common server tasks.
Compliments of
Eric Butow
Bill Dicke
John Joyal
HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers,
businesses, and institutions globally. The company’s
offerings span IT infrastructure, global services,
business and home computing, and imaging and
printing. HP’s annual revenue is more than $100B.
More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is
available at http://www.hp.com.
HP Virtual Connect for HP BladeSystem simplifies the
setup of server connections to LANs and SANs, allowing
server administrators to quickly add or replace servers
and move workloads without needing to involve
network and storage teams. HP Virtual Connect Flex-10
is the first interconnect technology to reduce the cost
and amount of network equipment needed compared
to switches, while providing precise bandwidth control
for every server Ethernet connection. Virtual Connect
Enterprise Manager provides a single intuitive console
that manages server connectivity for hundreds of
Virtual Connect domains and thousands of servers.
These materials are the copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc. and any
dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
HP Virtual Connect
FOR
DUMmIES
‰
2ND
EDITION
by Eric Butow, Bill Dicke,
and John Joyal
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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HP Virtual Connect For Dummies®, 2nd Edition
Published by
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Copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
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Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
About This Book ........................................................................ 1
Icons Used in This Book ............................................................ 2
Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics..... 3
Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Networking . . . . . . .5
The Parts You Need ................................................................... 5
Servers and blades .......................................................... 6
More on enclosures and bays ........................................ 7
Network adapter .............................................................. 8
Cables ................................................................................ 9
Traditional connection choices ................................... 10
The People You Need .............................................................. 11
System administrator .................................................... 11
LAN administrator ......................................................... 12
SAN administrator ......................................................... 12
The Problem with Cables and Switches ................................ 12
Too many cables ............................................................ 13
Too much to manage..................................................... 13
The Introduction of Server Virtualization............................. 13
The Problem that’s Grown Over Time . . . and
the Solution ........................................................................... 14
Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution. . . . . . . . . .15
Rethinking Infrastructure........................................................ 15
Grow Your Infrastructure over Time..................................... 17
Smarter Management .............................................................. 18
Managing Larger Virtual Connect Installations ...................21
Flexibility................................................................................... 23
HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 Technology................................ 24
Reduce interconnect modules ..................................... 25
Control and adjust NIC bandwidth .............................. 27
Extending the Flex-10 advantage with
the FlexFabric module ............................................... 27
Cost Savings.............................................................................. 30
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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iv
HP Virtual Connect For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Perspectives on HP Virtual Connect Installation ................. 32
Installation planning ...................................................... 32
MAC and WWN address choices.................................. 33
Virtual Connect Fibre Channel saves
fabric domain IDs ....................................................... 34
Chapter 3: Converging Your IT Infrastructure . . . . . . . .35
HP Converged Infrastructure ................................................. 35
The Four Pillars ........................................................................ 36
Part II: Virtual Connect Answers ....................... 39
Chapter 4: Virtual Connect Modules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port Module ....... 41
The Virtual Connect Ethernet Modules ................................ 43
The Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F Ethernet Module ........ 43
The Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb
Ethernet Module ........................................................ 44
The Fibre Channel Modules .................................................... 45
Virtual Connect 4Gb FC Module................................... 46
Virtual Connect 8Gb 20-Port Fibre
Channel Module ......................................................... 46
Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port Fibre
Channel Module ......................................................... 47
Building a c-Class Enclosure................................................... 48
Chapter 5: Looking More Closely at Virtual Connect. . . 49
Cost Reductions and TCO ....................................................... 50
Easier Hardware Management ............................................... 50
Virtual Connect module isn’t a switch ........................ 51
Higher availability and fault recovery......................... 51
Virtual Connect uplink failures don’t require
reconvergence on the external network ................. 52
Can connect to any industry standard
network components................................................. 53
Easier Network Connection Management............................. 53
Provides diagnostic tools ............................................. 53
Fibre Channel (FC) login distribution and
failover features ......................................................... 54
Other seasoned technology ......................................... 54
Urban Myths about Virtual Connect ..................................... 55
Myth: Virtual Connect doesn’t provide
visibility into the Virtual Connect Domain
for Network Admins................................................... 55
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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v
Table of Contents
Myth: VC Flex-10 doesn’t provide the
bandwidth control that QoS would ......................... 56
Myth: Virtual Connect users can’t leverage
existing network management tools ...................... 56
Myth: VC doesn’t interoperate with the
Nexus 1000v ................................................................ 57
Chapter 6: Ten Benefits of HP Virtual Connect . . . . . . .59
Fewer Cables and Switches .................................................... 59
More Applications on Fewer Servers (More Server I/O)..... 60
Lowered Expenses ................................................................... 60
Reduced Staff Time on Configuration and
Management ......................................................................... 61
Scalable Management That Grows with You ........................ 61
Match Bandwidth Supply to Application Demand .............. 62
Connect to Any Brand of LAN or SAN ................................... 62
Flexibility with Server Models ................................................ 62
Failover Process and Redundant Access .............................. 63
A Complete Server Network Connection Solution .............. 63
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Publisher’s Acknowledgments
We’re proud of this book and of the people who worked on it. For details on how to
create a custom For Dummies book for your business or organization, contact info@
dummies.biz. For details on licensing the For Dummies brand for products or services, contact BrandedRights&Licenses@Wiley.com.
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Acquisitions, Editorial, and
Media Development
Project Editor: Jennifer Bingham
Editorial Manager: Rev Mengle
Business Development Representative:
Karen Hattan
Custom Publishing Project Specialist:
Michael Sullivan
Cartoons: Rich Tennant
(www.the5thwave.com)
Composition Services
Project Coordinator: Kristie Rees
Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers,
Joyce Haughey, Lavonne Roberts
Proofreader: Dwight Ramsey
Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies
Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher
Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher
Mary Bednarek, Executive Director, Acquisitions
Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director
Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies
Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies
Composition Services
Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
Business Development
Lisa Coleman, Director, New Market and Brand Development
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Introduction
W
ith the second decade of the 21st century close at
hand, most companies have 20 to 30 years of experience working with computer networks. Despite all that experience, companies have put up with network configurations
that require intricate choreography among highly trained and
specialized network, storage, and systems personnel to set
things up, and then to keep everything running smoothly.
HP has a better way. Server edge virtualization is a technology that simplifies all that by separating the management of
computer servers from the management of the networks connected to them.
With HP Virtual Connect, you can simplify your server connectivity to your networks — and reduce equipment sprawl
at the server-to-network edge by up to 95 percent. System
administrators become self-sufficient to add or replace servers and move workloads from one server to another, while
freeing LAN and SAN administrators from common server
tasks. By implementing Virtual Connect technology with the
Flex-10 Ethernet and FlexFabric modules, you can also reduce
the amount of network connection equipment by up to 95
percent, reduce network hardware costs up to 65 percent,
and network power consumption up to 40 percent. So, read
on, and see whether HP Virtual Connect sounds like the right
answer for your company!
About This Book
This is the second Edition of HP Virtual Connect For Dummies.
We’ve updated the text to include information on the Virtual
Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port module and FlexFabric
Adapters and their capabilities and benefits. We also touch
on HP Converged Infrastructure and how Virtual Connect supports a Converged Infrastructure strategy.
These materials are the copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc. and any
dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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2
HP Virtual Connect For Dummies, 2nd Edition
This book introduces the core concepts and technologies for
HP Virtual Connect and uses information supplied by HP so
you can get a good idea of how HP Virtual Connect lives up to
its billing as the most complete and advanced server edge virtualization solution available. This book was written for HP.
Consider this an easy reference tool that you can go back
to whenever you need to learn more about what HP Virtual
Connect is all about. Like any book in the For Dummies series,
the information in this book is easily accessible so even
when we start getting into technospeak (and some of that is
inevitable) you won’t feel overwhelmed. And there aren’t any
quizzes at the end of the chapters, so don’t feel pressured to
remember anything you read in this book.
Icons Used in This Book
Throughout this book, you’ll notice a couple of helpful little
icons that mark certain types of information.
Get out your pen! This icon marks important information that
you should keep in mind.
Yeah, yeah, we know this book includes a fair share of technical information. This icon marks areas that delve more deeply
into technical details.
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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Part I
Networking and
Virtual Connect
Basics
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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I
In this part . . .
f you need to find out about the basics of networking,
this is the part for you. We also cover some need-toknow info about HP Virtual Connect so you can get up to
speed ASAP.
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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Chapter 1
A Quick Introduction
to Networking
In This Chapter
▶ Knowing what parts you need
▶ Getting to know those who work on your network
▶ Dealing with cables and switches
Y
ou probably use computer networks every day from
your own PC, whether it’s a private network within your
own company or when you use the Internet for research or
communication. However, if you don’t know what’s “under the
hood” of your network, then you won’t know how virtualizing
connections can help your business become more efficient
and save money. Building and managing corporate networks
can be a very complicated topic. However, in this chapter, we
talk about how to connect your computer servers to a network at a high level. If you feel you need to learn more about
the basics of networking or you’re simply curious, read on.
The Parts You Need
Today’s computer networks have several different parts that
you need in order to connect to the information you require.
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6
Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Infrastructure refers to all the servers, cables, storage, power
supplies, fans, enclosures, racks, and networking components
that make up your computing environment. Sometimes the
term also includes the software that runs on all this gear.
Servers and blades
You’ve probably heard of computer servers and wondered
what the difference is between a server and other computers.
A server is a computer that provides common, centralized services to client computers — that is, client computers connect
to the server and can access files and services on the server.
The server is designed with more memory, more processing
power, access to more storage space, and usually with more
network connection capacity. Servers must also be online
constantly and must therefore be very reliable. Many servers
include redundant features such as additional power supplies
and network connections that can take over in case one fails.
As your business information needs grow, you can add more
servers and connect them together to create a larger infrastructure with more power and capacity. Fortunately, you
don’t need to have all your servers connected to individual
monitors and keyboards so you can manage them. More
streamlined and modular servers called server blades save
space but still provide all the compute power you may need.
These server blades, an example of which is shown in Figure
1-1, sit in a blade enclosure, which also houses the connectivity, cooling, and power equipment. These enclosures sit in a
frame called a rack, also shown in the figure. The enclosure
has a number of mounting slots called bays.
Some racks are small and sit in regular office space. You may
also place a rack in a specific area, such as a cooled server
room, for security reasons or to provide a central location for
monitoring, maintaining, and expanding your infrastructure.
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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7
Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Networking
Figure 1-1: HP BladeSystem servers in c7000 enclosures in a rack.
More on enclosures and bays
Fortunately you don’t have to keep server blades lying around
everywhere in a pile (and they wouldn’t work well if you kept
them in a pile anyway). Instead, you place the server blades
in an enclosure that provides similar components to what you
find in your desktop or laptop computer including:
✓ Power for all server blades in the enclosure.
✓ Fans for cooling, because servers produce heat, and
as the enclosure becomes more populated, more heat
is generated. (Many are also in air conditioned server
rooms.)
✓ A number of expansion slots called bays, which house
server blades or other types of blade devices including
switching, and storage or backup devices.
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8
Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
✓ Networking interconnect devices to connect the server
blades to client computers and other devices (like storage) outside of the enclosure.
✓ An enclosure midplane to connect many of these components together without wires. In a laptop or desktop,
something similar is a motherboard that provides connection without all the wires.
Network adapter
Another essential component to your network is the network
adapter, which enables all your servers, clients, switches,
storage, and other devices to communicate with each other.
Network adapters have typically come in two flavors: Ethernet
and Fibre Channel. And they’re beginning to show up in a
third flavor: a Converged Network Adapter (CNA).
Ethernet
You may be surprised to know that we’re still using networking technologies that were developed in the 1970s. When
people were sporting big hair and loud clothing, the smart
people at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center created
Ethernet, a group of networking technologies that define a
number of wiring and signaling protocols. Ethernet was standardized around 1980 and as the years have gone by, the
speed of Ethernet (and the networking components) have
become ever faster.
An Ethernet adapter is called a Network Interface Controller,
known popularly as a NIC. Most computers (including perhaps
the one you use now) have NICs built right into the main circuit board (or motherboard) of the computer. Depending on
the server blade you buy, the motherboard can include a NIC,
which is referred to as a LAN on Motherboard (or LOM). Many
NICs have two ports so you can make two separate network
connections from one NIC.
Fibre Channel
If you’ve heard about your company having a storage area
network (also known by its acronym SAN) then you may have
heard about Fibre Channel, or FC. Fibre Channel provides the
means to connect your network to a separate (and sometimes
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9
Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Networking
remote) computer storage device through a Host Bus Adapter
(or HBA).
For example, you may have a disk array that contains
numerous hard disks connected to your network for storage.
The SAN connects the hard disks to your servers and is
typically shared by all the servers.
What happens if you don’t have enough NICs and/or HBAs
connected to the server? You can always add more by
installing add-on cards, also referred to as mezzanine cards
(whether you can do this depends on the capability of your
server blade, though).
Converged Network Adapter
You may have heard about the Converged Network Adapter
(CNA) recently. This type of network adapter has the ability to communicate over Ethernet links and supports both
Ethernet and Fibre Channel. The Fibre Channel data is carried
by a new protocol called Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
So a CNA consolidates your LAN and SAN traffic over one
adapter that acts as both NIC and HBA.
HP incorporates these capabilities right into its server blades
so there is nothing extra to buy! No extra NICs, no extra
HBAs — they’re already there. HP also incorporates iSCSI
offload technology that allows its CNAs to support Ethernet,
Fibre Channel, and high performance iSCSI. In fact, HP
provides more capabilities in its CNAs, which is why they
are called FlexFabric Adapters. We talk more about them in
Chapter 2.
Cables
Wireless networking has become pretty common, especially
among home network users, and you may be wondering
whether anyone actually uses cables anymore. Didn’t those go
the way of analog TV signals? Sorry guys, if you have a business network, the only way to connect a server to the network
is by hard-wiring it — not only because wiring is more reliable
and faster than wireless, but also because it provides greater
security than wireless connections. Businesses primarily use
Ethernet and Fibre Channel interconnect technologies today.
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Ethernet
As of this writing, the fastest Ethernet speed for servers
(that is, the fastest rate that the Ethernet protocol can transmit data over an Ethernet cable) is 10 gigabits per second
(often written as 10 Gb). The organization that sets Ethernet
standards, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers), is working on 40 Gb and 100 Gb Ethernet standards for the near future. In the meantime, Ethernet cables
have a number of different speeds including 10 megabits per
second (10 Mb), 100 megabits per second (or Fast Ethernet),
and 1 gigabit per second (or Gigabit Ethernet).
Fibre Channel
Although the name suggests that Fibre Channel connections
are typically made with fiber-optic cables, you can have Fibre
Channel run with copper wire as well. Like Ethernet, you
typically connect Fibre Channel cables between two devices
through a Fibre Channel switch.
However, Fibre Channel speeds are different from Ethernet
speeds. FC speeds come in two categories:
✓ The interoperable category has FC cable speeds of 1 gigabit per second, 2 gigabits per second, 4 gigabits per second,
and 8 gigabits per second. By interoperable, we mean these
connections can automatically adjust to the fastest speed
that equipment on both ends of the cable can handle.
✓ The high-speed category has FC cable speeds of 10 gigabits per second and 20 gigabits per second. These cables
don’t support lower speeds and are used primarily for
connecting multiple FC switches.
Traditional connection choices
There used to be two choices when it came to connecting
your server blades to your network: Pass-Thru and blade
switches. The following sections discuss these options in
more detail.
Pass-Thru modules
A Pass-Thru module is an interconnection device that provides
a one-to-one direct link between each blade Ethernet NIC or
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Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Networking
Fibre Channel HBA and a switch outside the enclosure. Each
connection uses a separate cable.
The problem with Pass-Thru modules is that you have many
network cables coming out of every module. If you have a
medium- to larger-sized network, the number of cables can
be overwhelming to manage. They also add a lot of expense
because they require so many costly switch ports at the other
end of those cables.
Blade switches
Blade switches are available for a number of network types.
However, blade switches are relatively small and one
enclosure with 16 servers might need 6 or 8 switches. If you
have a large network with many more servers, then you will
require an awful lot of switches, which will be very difficult to
manage.
The People You Need
Who are these people you need to keep your compute infrastructure humming along? You may have passed these people
in the hall and know their names from the company directory,
but you may not know what they do each day to keep the data
and information flowing.
System administrator
The system administrator manages your computer servers and
everything that runs on them, like your business applications,
your operating systems, your virtual machines, and connections to your communication and storage networks. Those
responsibilities can involve everything from installing and
maintaining anti-virus and anti-malware protection, to implementing drivers and new operating systems, to setting backup
policies.
If you have a one-person technical staff, the system administrator is also responsible for the work of the LAN and SAN
architecture and operation, besides the server stuff. This
includes designing the infrastructure, troubleshooting bugs,
and being responsible for overall company system and data
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
security. This job can be even more complicated than when
there are more people to share the load. So simplifying IT
operations is even more critical for this person.
LAN administrator
The LAN administrator is the person responsible for keeping
the network online day in and day out. This person is responsible for the networking connections, security, performance,
reliability, policy administration, and maintenance.
When connections aren’t working, it could mean that a component failed or someone changed a server or storage device,
so coordination with the server and storage administrators
is very important. The LAN administrator is responsible for
resolving any connection and conflict issues.
SAN administrator
The SAN administrator may also be called the storage administrator. This person is also a specialist who is responsible
for setting up, assigning, and maintaining the storage arrays
shared by the servers and the network that connects them
to all devices. As in the LAN administrator case, the SAN is a
complicated network and its administrator must ensure its
connectivity, security, performance, reliability, and overall
smooth operation. If any problems arise with the SAN, then
the SAN administrator is tasked with finding the problem,
offering solutions, and managing any interruptions in service.
The SAN administrator is also responsible for managing the
addresses used in the Fibre Channel connections. These
addresses are called Worldwide Names or WWNs.
The Problem with Cables
and Switches
When you add up the number of people and parts you can
have in an IT operation, and especially as the number of
people and parts (like server blades) grow, everything gets
very complicated, so a common directive in IT is to keep the
compute infrastructure as simple as possible. Yet companies
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Chapter 1: A Quick Introduction to Networking
are daunted by many logistical problems that keep them from
optimizing their networks.
Too many cables
A rack full of servers can have hundreds of network cables —
especially when using individual rack-mounted servers or
Pass-Thru devices in blade servers. As your IT demand grows,
especially as you virtualize more servers, you’ll need more
network connections on each server, and Pass-Thru modules
can render the flood of cables practically unmanageable.
Too much to manage
Switches can lower the number of cables, but as your compute infrastructure grows, you grow the number of switches
as well. Every switch needs maintenance, updates, and
coordination. So, the more switches you add, the greater the
management load you’re forcing on the LAN and SAN administrators. And server virtualization multiplies the number of
switches you will need, so the management effort can get out
of hand, fast!
The Introduction of Server
Virtualization
Historically, as companies grew and built up their infrastructure, they added new servers, networks, and storage capacity for each new application. This application isolation often
offered simpler set-up, better performance, and more reliability. Most importantly, if one business application and the
infrastructure supporting it needed to change or had a problem, it didn’t cause problems for other applications.
However, this silo application deployment approach left
excessive pockets of unused server capacity. Virtual
machines (VMs) — essentially many server environments
within one physical server — helped address these issues.
Setting up networks, IP addresses, VLANs, subnets, and so
on requires substantial planning and coordination between
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
server and network teams. Although planning for a single
server might not seem like a huge effort, provisioning multiple
VMs on many rack or server blades can result in greater complexity. The problem isn’t initial provisioning as much as the
inevitable adjustments that ripple back and forth because
a routine server change can force adjustments up and down
the line.
The Problem that’s Grown Over
Time . . . and the Solution
There is a problem that has cropped up with server virtualization. As more applications have been consolidated onto
virtual machine containers on fewer servers, the server I/O
demand has increased. The end result is the complexity of
the I/O at the server edge, and business managers have rightfully listed this as a concern when considering virtualization
solutions. Fortunately, Hewlett-Packard has created Virtual
Connect, a server edge virtualization solution that simplifies
the equipment and operations complexity of connecting your
servers to your networks and addresses the management
of network resources. The rest of this book explains how
Virtual Connect works and shows you what it can do for your
company.
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Chapter 2
The HP Virtual
Connect Solution
In This Chapter
▶ Taking a fresh look at IT Infrastructure
▶ Growing your network over time
▶ Managing smarter
▶ Looking at Virtual Connect from different perspectives
H
ewlett-Packard (HP) has created a combination hardware and software server edge virtualization solution
called Virtual Connect. This unique approach sets HP apart in
the IT infrastructure market. So what makes the HP solution
so great?
Rethinking Infrastructure
HP started by rethinking IT infrastructure and developed
HP BladeSystem (see Figure 2-1), which brings together the
traditional features of racked environments, including the
server, storage, power and cooling, and networking. Then HP
improved on them by building an integrated system to save
cost, energy, and time, and to make the infrastructure changeready for today’s ever-evolving IT demands.
BladeSystem also improves the infrastructure by eliminating all the server-to-network connection cables and adding
built-in infrastructure management tools like the Onboard
Administrator.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Figure 2-1: Back of HP BladeSystem showing interconnects and fans.
While bringing all the infrastructure pieces together in the
HP BladeSystem, HP added another huge advance to server
connectivity and management with server edge virtualization.
Virtual Connect frees up administrators from the constraints
of a traditional infrastructure by adding a virtualization layer
between the network and the servers. The HP Virtual Connect
solution allows system administrators to perform such tasks
as adding or changing a server, or moving the workload from
one server to another without needing to involve LAN and
SAN administrators in every change.
HP created Virtual Connect to adapt to the needs of your network and business applications. For example:
✓ You can use HP’s Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet or
Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port modules, and Flex10 NIC and FlexFabric Adapters to save on cost and equipment, and to increase flexibility and bandwidth control.
(You can find out more about these later in this chapter.)
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
✓ If you have another vendor’s network switches already
incorporated in your business, HP Virtual Connect can
integrate seamlessly — so you don’t have to start again
from scratch.
HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric and Flex-10 Ethernet modules
and FlexFabric and Flex-10 Adapters are already capable of
the faster 10Gb speed, but can talk to any 1Gb Ethernet or
2, 4, or 8 Gb Fibre Channel equipment at the slower speed.
This means that Virtual Connect will work with your slower
equipment now, and also work with any faster 10Gb Ethernet
network equipment you buy going forward. The same is true
for the Virtual Connect 8Gb FC modules — they will communicate with your slower FC equipment, but are ready for
faster speeds when you upgrade. This means you can upgrade
at your own pace as your budget allows — instead of being
forced into a forklift upgrade. That is, you won’t have to
undergo a massive upgrade to your network that will require
a lot of new hardware, money, and effort.
The end result is a flexible infrastructure that lets you add
or replace servers and move workloads quickly to meet your
needs, instead of forcing your business application to adjust
to the demands of a rigid set of equipment.
Grow Your Infrastructure
over Time
HP Virtual Connect supports as many as 16 servers — and
hundreds of virtual machines — in a single BladeSystem
c7000 enclosure. That doesn’t mean you need to start with
16 servers — you can start small and as your company grows
you can build up your infrastructure. HP also offers a smaller
c3000 enclosure that holds up to eight half-height server blades.
All you need to do is have your system, LAN, and SAN administrators provision your LAN and SAN connections once in Virtual
Connect. The next time you add a server, your system administrator won’t have to call the LAN or SAN administrators — the
system administrator can add the new server blade into the
enclosure, assign the appropriate server profile containing
your defined network connections, and go. There is no need
to coordinate with the LAN and SAN administrators. (Don’t
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
worry — we talk about the Virtual Connect hardware and how
to set it up later in this chapter.)
Because the LAN and SAN administrators don’t have to be
involved after deployment, you might worry they would lose
control of their networks. But actually, they don’t lose any
control. Virtual Connect isn’t part of the LAN or SAN; it just
connects the servers to those networks. Built-in authentication controls establish role-based authority. There are some
configuration tasks that are reserved for LAN administrators,
some for SAN administrators, and others for system administrators. Everyone keeps the authority and responsibility
they had before Virtual Connect — the difference is that now
they’re more productive and get the work done faster.
Smarter Management
Although you can reduce the number of cables with switches
in your network, HP Virtual Connect goes several giant leaps
further.
To set up and administer the network addresses, connection
profiles, and other Virtual Connect resources, HP provides
management options for large and small environments. HP
Virtual Connect Manager provides a built-in Web GUI interface
and a fully scriptable Command Line Interface (CLI) designed
to manage single Virtual Connect domains. A Virtual Connect
domain is a collection of up to four BladeSystem enclosures
full of servers and network connections that are cabled
together as a single manageable element.
Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager (VCEM) is a software
application that centralizes server connectivity and workload
management for hundreds of Virtual Connect domains and
thousands of servers from a single console. Virtual Connect
Enterprise Manager can control up to 1,000 enclosures today —
that’s a whopping 16,000 blade servers!
If you’re new to Virtual Connect, then your initial step will be to
access Virtual Connect Manager through your Web browser to
set up your first Virtual Connect Domain as shown in Figure 2-2.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
Figure 2-2: HP Virtual Connect Manager GUI.
The Virtual Connect Manager, also called VC Manager, contains utilities and a Profile Wizard that allows the system
administrator to create and allocate server connection profiles to servers. These server connection profiles include the
NIC media access control (MAC) addresses, Fibre Channel
host bus adapter (HBA) worldwide names (WWNs), SAN boot
configurations, and other information that enables a server to
establish connections to preferred LANs and SANs.
As part of the initial Virtual Connect configuration, the system
administrator must work with the LAN and SAN administrators to set appropriate policies that identify which networks
the servers may connect to. Once the networks are identified,
the system administrator can define these in VC Manager as
available resources as shown in Figure 2-3.
Virtual Connect technology separates the management of
server connections from the management of networks. The
LAN and SAN administrators are still responsible for defining and presenting the networks and sub-networks, but the
system administrator is now self-sufficient to define and
modify server connections to those networks when needed.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Figure 2-3: HP Virtual Connect Manager Define Ethernet Network screen.
The system administrator can now use VC Manager to create
and assign server connection profiles to individual servers
and establish network connections as shown in Figure 2-4.
Figure 2-4: HP Virtual Connect Manager Server Profile contents.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
Connection profiles are actually assigned to the enclosure bay
and not the server that’s plugged into the bay, which provides
constant network connectivity and enables several benefits
that include:
✓ Network connections can be pre-assigned to empty bays
to provide rapid server deployment — just add servers
and Virtual Connect does the rest.
✓ Allows servers to be replaced in minutes by the
system administrator without involving LAN and SAN
administrators — any server located in a bay will always
use the connection definitions in the associated profile.
✓ Connection profiles can be moved to different enclosure
bays — this allows system administrators to quickly
reallocate server connections and workloads to spare
servers in the event of a server failure, or to perform
simple migrations.
All network assignments and other parameters defined in a
connection profile always remain with the profile, even when
it’s moved to another server.
Managing Larger Virtual
Connect Installations
If you have a larger infrastructure to manage, typically four or
more BladeSystem enclosures, the Virtual Connect Enterprise
Manager (VCEM), shown in Figure 2-5, simplifies connection
and change management, reduces risk, and provides automated profile failover for thousands of server blades.
The core capabilities provided by VCEM include the following:
✓ A single intuitive console that manages connectivity for
hundreds of Virtual Connect domains and thousands of
servers.
✓ A central repository that administers all the MAC
addresses and WWNs, which simplifies address management and eliminates the risk of conflicts.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Figure 2-5: HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager GUI.
✓ The ability to manage groups of Virtual Connect domains
using common configuration profiles. This capability
increases configuration consistency, limits errors, simplifies enclosure deployment, and enables network connection changes to be made once and pushed to multiple
Virtual Connect domains.
✓ The ability to move server connection profiles and associated workloads between Virtual Connect Domains. This
enables system administrators to add or replace servers
and move workloads across the data center in minutes
without help from LAN and SAN administrators. Profile
movement can be controlled manually from the VCEM
user interface, via a command line script, or automated
using the VCEM Profile Failover feature (see Figure 2-6),
which automatically selects a new target server from a
pool of user-defined spares.
VCEM is a highly scalable solution that keeps pace with your
management needs as the network grows.
VCEM profile movement and failover can be used to perform
common data center tasks faster and more efficiently, such as:
✓ Server blade recovery
✓ Hardware maintenance with reduced downtime
✓ Rapid server repurposing to meet changing workload and
application priorities
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
Figure 2-6: HP Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager Failover and Spares
screen.
When moving Virtual Connect server profiles, the fastest completion times are achieved when the source and target servers are configured for boot-from-SAN. The automated profile
failover functionality delivered in VCEM requires a boot-fromSAN environment.
Flexibility
You would expect HP to follow industry standards, and that’s
what they’ve done with Virtual Connect. HP recommends
having two identical Virtual Connect Modules side by side when
looking to implement redundancy. Each port of a dual-ported
server NIC or FlexFabric Adapter can connect to a different
Virtual Connect module to create separate connections for use
with built-in NIC teaming for failover or simple load balancing.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
HP Virtual Connect
Flex-10 Technology
Virtual Connect Flex-10 is an HP network connection technology that’s available only with Virtual Connect — and is built
into Flex-10 modules, NICs, and HP servers.
Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology can save you 75 percent
of the modules or switches you might need otherwise. What’s
more, it can save you 100 percent of the NICs you’d need to
buy because they are built right into the server motherboard.
(Won’t you miss choosing the right NIC to order?)
So what makes these Flex-10 NICs so special? When you connect one of these NICs to a Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb
Ethernet Module, each port becomes four individual NICs
(called FlexNICs) that share 10Gb of bandwidth. Each FlexNIC
offers full hardware-level performance.
Because HP’s Virtual Connect Flex-10 module is 10Gb fast, you
can take advantage of 10Gb connection speed when you’re
ready to upgrade any slower network components. With
Virtual Connect Flex-10, there are a number of benefits that
the following sections discuss in detail.
Two hardware components are needed to make a Flex-10
connection:
✓ Virtual Connect Flex-10 NICs, which are built into most of
the industry-leading HP BladeSystem servers as dual-port
NICs (called LAN on Motherboards or LOMs) or available
as dual-port NIC mezzanine cards.
✓ The Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet Module.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
Reduce interconnect modules
You can reduce the number of switches by 75 percent and the
number of NICs by 100 percent! How is this possible, you ask?
Each standard network adapter on a server blade needs to
connect to a switch or Pass-Thru module. Therefore, if you
need four redundant Ethernet networks, you need eight NICs
on each server blade and eight interconnect modules in the
enclosure interconnect bays. (By the way, these bays can
fill up quickly, especially if you need Fibre Channel and/or
InfiniBand in the enclosure as well.)
What’s more, each of those eight standard NICs has a fixed
speed — either a 1Gb NIC or a 10Gb NIC (for which you’ll pay
more). Many applications could really use more than 1Gb but
very few need the entire 10Gb; however, when using standard
NICs, you must pick one or the other when it comes to setting
the bandwidth. So your application is either starved for bandwidth and you must trunk together multiple NICs for your
applications to run properly, or you plug in a 10Gb NIC and
underutilize its bandwidth.
HP thought there must be a better way, and they created it
with Virtual Connect Flex-10 (see Figure 2-7). To get those
same eight NICs and four redundant networks using Virtual
Connect Flex-10, you don’t need any mezzanine cards and
you only need two Virtual Connect Flex-10 interconnect modules in the enclosure. Therefore, you only have to buy two
modules instead of eight. (And you need to power only two
instead of eight — think of how green you’ll be!)
Virtual
Connect
Flex-10
Figure 2-7: With a Virtual Connect Flex-10 dual-port NIC, two 10Gb ports
provide eight FlexNIC connections.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
You can also dynamically adjust the bandwidth of each
FlexNIC using Flex-10 technology (see the “Control and adjust
NIC bandwidth” section later in this chapter).
The LOM dual port Flex-10 NIC provides eight FlexNIC connections. When you add dual port 10Gb mezzanine cards, such
as HP’s NC532m Dual Port Flex-10 Adapter (see Figure 2-8), a
half-height server can support up to 24 NIC connections per
server. That’s way more than most people need! If you need to
support a large number of virtual machines that can only be
supported by a true virtualization server (such as HP’s BL490c
and BL495c server blades), Virtual Connect Flex-10 provides
the needed I/O bandwidth to support those connections.
Figure 2-8: HP NC532m Dual Port Flex-10 Adapter mezzanine card.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
Control and adjust NIC bandwidth
Virtual Connect Flex-10 also offers a unique and significant
operational advantage: You can dynamically fine-tune the speed
of each FlexNIC in 100Mb increments from 100Mb to 10Gb.
Most applications need bandwidth within a certain range, and
until Virtual Connect Flex-10 came along, IT departments were
hamstrung by their infrastructure. If a management console
required only 500Mb of bandwidth, you would overprovision
by 100 percent with a 1Gb NIC. If you needed much more bandwidth, you would consider either trunking several 1Gb NICs or
buying all the more expensive equipment (such as adapters
and switch ports) for 10Gb NICs — and probably underutilize
the full capacity that you paid for with a 10Gb network.
With Flex-10 and FlexNICs, you have 10Gb to share across four
FlexNICs. If you want one FlexNIC to have 5Gb of bandwidth and
another to have 1Gb, then you can set the other two to any value
you want as long as their sum doesn’t exceed 4Gb (because you
have a maximum shareable bandwidth of 10Gb). You can adjust
that bandwidth on the fly so that the bandwidth for a virtual
machine application can be adjusted as conditions change.
This flexibility also gives system administrators more peace
of mind when it comes to ensuring that there is enough network bandwidth available. Virtual Connect Flex-10 allows the
system administrator to set a ceiling on the bandwidth available to any FlexNIC. If the system admin doesn’t have a particular value, Virtual Connect can set a recommended value.
And the LAN administrator can set limits too, so that demand
from the Virtual Connect Flex-10 server connections doesn’t
overwhelm the network capacity.
Extending the Flex-10 advantage
with the FlexFabric module
With the recent introduction of the Virtual Connect FlexFabric
module and FlexFabric Adapters, HP can deliver even more
consolidation at the server edge. Virtual Connect FlexFabric
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
modules are also built on the unique Virtual Connect Flex-10
capability to provide four physical functions for each network
port and to allocate and fine-tune network bandwidth for both
data and storage connections to make sure that each connection
is provisioned just right. Figure 2-9 shows a FlexFabric module.
Figure 2-9: HP NC551m Dual Port FlexFabric 10Gb Converged Network
Adapter.
With the FlexFabric module and FlexFabric Adapter, you
can either configure four FlexNICs per adapter port or you
can assign one of those four connections as a FlexHBA function. This combination provides Ethernet plus either a Fibre
Channel or an iSCSI offload function. On a dual-port adapter,
that’s up to eight Ethernet functions or up to six Ethernet and
two storage protocol functions.
Many of HP’s latest server blades have a FlexFabric Adapter
built right into the motherboard. This means you don’t have
to buy any additional mezzanine cards. Unless you need more
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
than six Ethernet and two Fibre Channel or iSCSI connections
on a server, you won’t ever need to buy a NIC or HBA mezzanine card again.
Challenges with Fibre Channel over Ethernet
There is a lot of talk about Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
these days. This technology promises to reduce the amount
of equipment you need to buy for your LANs and SANs by combining both storage and data traffic over the same Ethernet network. It’s a great idea but it comes with a couple of challenges:
✓ You need a new generation of Ethernet switches if you
want to run FCoE everywhere in your data center.
✓ You may need to work with your LAN and SAN operations
teams to update their processes and responsibilities.
FCoE requires an Ethernet network that complies with new IEEE
standards referred to as Data Center Bridging (DCB). Sometimes
this is also referred to as Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) or
lossless Ethernet. Today’s version of Ethernet wasn’t designed
to handle some aspects of Fibre Channel, so representatives on
IEEE committees are rewriting the Ethernet specs accordingly.
As of this writing, that work isn’t done yet, but when it is, new
distribution and core switches will be needed if you want to
run FCoE traffic from your servers across a complex multi-hop
network to storage devices or other targets. (Counting hops
is a bit complicated, but if your data passes through two or
more switches, you’ve got a multi-hop network.)
Operationally, FCoE makes the LAN and SAN into the same network. So you’ll want to figure out who is responsible for maintaining it, how you can be assured that both types of traffic are
handled properly, what you will do if something doesn’t work,
and so on. You can work all this out over time, but it can be disruptive to your operations until you’ve sorted it out.
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric advantage
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric module offers a better way to
take advantage of FCoE technology. FlexFabric brings you the
simplification and cost advantages that FCoE promises, but
without any disruption to the way you operate today. What’s
more, you don’t need to buy a new generation of switches
until you want to, if ever.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
How does this work? Virtual Connect FlexFabric modules
use industry-standard FCoE inside the BladeSystem C7000
enclosure and also bring the data traffic out of the FlexFabric
modules in the familiar form of today’s industry standard
Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI. You can save money and
avoid operational disruption.
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric Adapter that’s built into the
server, and also available as a mezzanine card, takes the place
of both Ethernet NICs and Fibre Channel HBAs. The industry
term for this basic capability is Converged Network Adapter
(CNA), but HP greatly enhances its FlexFabric Adapter with
the power of Flex-10 capabilities. Sort of like a CNA on steroids, but much more useful for the data center!
Cost Savings
The one thing that’s most important to any executive: What’s
the ROI? The HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric and Flex-10 solutions provide savings in four areas:
✓ Less equipment to buy and pay for
✓ Bandwidth control matches supply to your application
needs while reducing overall network demand
✓ LAN and SAN administrators’ time isn’t wasted because
the system administrator is more self-sufficient
✓ Less equipment means lower power bills
Figure 2-10 illustrates a Virtual Connect Flex-10 configuration
when setting up a best-practice network configuration for
VMware. The minimum recommendation for NICs in a VMware
configuration is six, and they’re compared here between traditional 1Gb bandwidth technology and Virtual Connect Flex-10.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
NIC 1
Service
Console
(OS, Mgt
Net,
Backup)
NIC 2
VMkernel
(VMotion,
iSCSI,
NFS)
NIC 3
VM
Network
NIC 4
Service
Console
(OS, Mgt
Net,
Backup)
NIC 5
VMkernel
(VMotion,
iSCSI,
NFS)
NIC 6
VM
Network
Traditional
1 Gb
Technology
1Gb
1Gb
1Gb
1Gb
1Gb
1Gb
Virtual
Connect
Flex-10
0.5Gb
1Gb
8.5Gb
0.5Gb
1Gb
8.5Gb
Comparisons are for six-NIC configurations comparing Virtual Connect Flex-10 to Cisco 3120X 1/10Gb switches.
Figure 2-10: A VMware Best Practice Network Configuration Comparison.
As you can see, with the traditional 1Gb technology each NIC
is stuck at 1Gb no matter what your needs for that NIC are.
For example, the service console on NIC 1 needs only half of
the 1Gb bandwidth for that NIC so you overprovision by 100
percent. With Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology, you can
adjust the bandwidth to 500Mb. Then you can increase your
bandwidth for other FlexNICs. You’re not forced into any
infrastructure constraints with FlexNICs.
HP crunched the numbers in this VMware comparison and
found that when compared to traditional 1Gb technology, HP
Virtual Connect Flex-10:
✓ Is 45 percent less expensive to buy
✓ Consumes 40 percent less power (given up to 240W per
enclosure)
✓ Offers 3.3 times higher total bandwidth
✓ Allows 100 times more flexibility to allocate bandwidth
across networks
✓ Has up to 10 times higher bandwidth per link
In fact, in some configurations, Virtual Connect FlexFabric can
reduce your hardware at the server edge by as much as 95
percent. This also means you can reduce equipment costs
by as much as 65 percent and your power costs by as much
as 40 percent.
HP offers two major cost and hassle savers with the Virtual
Connect FlexFabric module and FlexFabric Adapter. First,
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HP builds the FlexFabric Adapter into most server blades as
standard, so you don’t have to buy any mezzanine cards. And
second, HP doesn’t charge any license fee to allow module
ports to pass storage traffic, so you don’t have to pay for and
track licenses.
Another expense reducer is the standardization of configuration that using Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology provides.
Because IT departments and related support divisions are
busy enough as it is, businesses with large numbers of applications try to limit the number of different configurations
available. In most cases, there will be four or five certified
infrastructure configurations that specify how to configure
racks, enclosures, servers, network connections, and more.
HP has addressed this all-important issue with FlexFabric or
Flex-10 adapters — and the eight Flex functions you get right
on the server blades. One pair of modules connected to these
adapters may meet the needs of all your server configurations.
Perspectives on HP Virtual
Connect Installation
One question that’s probably foremost on your mind is: What
will your IT team have to do when it comes time to install HP
Virtual Connect? The following sections provide some key
operational aspects. Though this discussion is pretty high level,
this section does get a little more technical in case you want to
share this information with your IT team and get their feedback.
Installation planning
The system administrator must work with the LAN and SAN
administrators to plan how Virtual Connect will be connected
to the networks. Virtual Connect Manager provides installation wizards for the different administrators to make the
process simple and straightforward. Here are some of the key
steps in the installation process:
✓ Identify the number of required uplinks based on network bandwidth requirements.
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Chapter 2: The HP Virtual Connect Solution
✓ Configure upstream Ethernet network switch ports for
Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) if needed, or
verify that the ports are configured. If link aggregation
is required, you must configure the upstream switch
ports that connect to the Virtual Connect module for
802.3ad (LACP).
✓ Determine whether factory MAC addresses and WWNs
will be used or whether you will implement Virtual
Connect assigned addresses.
✓ Establish the required connections to connect servers
and VLANs to the core network.
✓ Decide on any other specific VLAN requirements.
✓ Identify the number of Fibre Channel uplinks based on
SAN bandwidth requirements.
✓ Ensure the upstream Fibre Channel switch ports are configured for N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV).
✓ Decide how each server will connect to the Fibre Channel
fabrics and establish the required connections.
A physical connection from the server to the network is complete only after you connect the Virtual Connect module(s)
to the upstream data center switches, define Virtual Connect
networks, and assign server profile(s) in Virtual Connect
Manager.
MAC and WWN address choices
MAC addresses and WWNs (World Wide Names — sometimes
called World Wide IDs) are critical to how your servers communicate with your LANs and SANs. Virtual Connect offers
three choices for setting MAC addresses and WWNs. The
LAN, SAN, and system administrators need to agree on which
method is most useful for their situation. The addresses can
be assigned in these ways:
✓ Use the factory-implemented MAC addresses that come
with the NICs and the factory-implemented WWNs that
come with the HBAs. These MAC and WWN addresses
are each unique and registered with international agencies to ensure no duplication.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
✓ Virtual Connect–assigned addresses, which are also
uniquely assigned and registered. When you use Virtual
Connect–assigned addresses, Virtual Connect assigns the
MAC and WWN addresses with the server profile when
you create it. Virtual Connect can also move the profile
and its assigned addresses from one server to another.
For these reasons, HP recommends that you use Virtual
Connect–assigned addresses.
✓ You can also set the MAC and WWN addresses yourself
and Virtual Connect will manage them.
✓ In order to get the Virtual Connect benefits of being able
to add or replace a server and moving workloads from
one server to another without impacting the LAN or
SAN, you will need Virtual Connect to be managing the
addresses, whether it assigned them or you assign them
yourself. Using the factory-implemented default values
will not allow Virtual Connect to provide these benefits.
Virtual Connect Fibre Channel
saves fabric domain IDs
One of the great advantages of Virtual Connect for your Fibre
Channel SAN is that you aren’t limited by the number of
switches in your FC SAN fabric. Every FC fabric is limited in
the number of switches it can allow. If a user has many server
blade enclosures, the number of FC switches needed is often
too many to fit into the FC fabric limits.
Virtual Connect Fibre Channel overcomes this problem.
Because the Virtual Connect FC modules aren’t switches,
they don’t count against FC fabric limits. So Virtual Connect is
able to reduce your FC cable count, even when switches can’t
do that. At the same time, it provides all the Virtual Connect
advantages described earlier.
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Chapter 3
Converging Your
IT Infrastructure
In This Chapter
▶ Examining HP Converged Infrastructure and how it can help
▶ Discovering the parts of a Converged Infrastructure
O
ver the past 15 to 20 years, applications and information
technologies have become more complex and business
processes more inflexible. This IT sprawl has driven costs up
to the point where about 70 percent of the IT budget typically
goes to maintaining the infrastructure (just keeping the lights
on), and only 30 percent goes to business innovation.
Businesses know that innovation is important — it opens new
markets, drives efficiency, and sharpens the competitive edge.
And businesses are ready for the next generation of data centers to overcome IT sprawl and apply more of the IT department’s efforts and budgets to building the business.
HP Converged Infrastructure
Servers, storage, networks, power and cooling, and management tools are now designed to be more open, simpler, and
much better integrated. HP’s Converged Infrastructure offers
all these technologies firmly based on industry standards (see
Figure 3-1). HP can furnish only the pieces you need or a fully
integrated solution so your business can reduce the 70 percent of your IT budget dedicated to keeping your infrastructure up and running.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
Storage
Servers
HP
Converged
Infrastructure
Power & cooling
Network
Management software
Figure 3-1: HP Converged Infrastructure.
The Four Pillars
Without drilling down too much into how to build your next
data center to start flipping those budget ratios around, we
want to talk a little about what makes a converged infrastructure and why Virtual Connect is critical to it.
A fully converged infrastructure needs to address four key
areas: HP calls them the key technology pillars (see Figure 3-2).
The pillars address real problems with the way IT infrastructure has been built in the past. The problems can be
addressed one at a time, but to get the full benefit in your IT
organization you’ll want to address all four.
✓ Virtual Resource Pools: The first challenge IT managers face is the lack of, or under-sharing of, network
resources. Servers, storage, switches, and so on are of
different types with different capacities and the network
handles each resource type individually. For example,
what if you have two servers that are only 20 percent
utilized but are of different types? The first step is for
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Chapter 3: Converging Your IT Infrastructure
your management tools to treat those servers as virtual
resource pools. When you start pooling and allocating
the remaining 80 percent of those two server resources
for various applications, under-utilization becomes a
thing of the past.
Virtual Resource Pools
Data Center Smart Grid
HP FlexFabric
Service
Requested
Service
Delivered
Matrix Operating Environment
Figure 3-2: HP Converged Infrastructure pillars.
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Part I: Networking and Virtual Connect Basics
✓ Data Center Smart Grid: Power and cooling is near the
top of everyone’s IT issues list today. Rising energy costs
and environmental (known popularly as green) regulatory pressures are forcing big changes in how businesses
use power. HP’s Data Center Smart Grid offers integrated
approaches that can reduce and control energy usage
in real time to improve efficiency under any workload,
lower costs, and extend the capacity of existing facilities.
✓ HP FlexFabric: Many business networks are experiencing rapid increases in workloads and connections. The
rapid adoption of virtualization is straining existing infrastructure to meet networking demands. HP FlexFabric is
a wire-once network infrastructure that delivers a simple,
reliable, and highly scalable network fabric to support a
truly converged infrastructure. Virtual Connect is a key
component of the HP FlexFabric architecture that provides smoothly integrated server connectivity to data
center networks.
✓ Matrix Operating Environment: Businesses need
automated ways to increase productivity and continuously optimize resources in a uniform way across IT
domains. The HP Matrix Operating Environment provides a common management platform that extends
from infrastructure-to-application across servers, storage, and networks. Shared services can be created and
provisioned quickly, often in a matter of hours instead
of months. Virtual Connect is an essential component
of the Matrix Operating Environment that enables HP’s
Insight Dynamics VSE to move workloads across physical and virtual servers without rewiring or reconfiguring
connections. (If you’re curious, Insight Dynamics VSE is
advanced lifecycle management software.)
The best thing about this architecture, and the technologies behind it, is that all this is possible today — not a vague
vision of the future. If you’d like to read more about this,
check out HP’s Web site on the topic at www.hp.com/go/ci.
We talk more about HP Virtual Connect modules in Chapter 4.
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Part II
Virtual Connect
Answers
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I
In this part . . .
f you or anyone else has questions about HP Virtual
Connect, you’ll find the answers in this part of the
book.
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Chapter 4
Virtual Connect Modules
In This Chapter
▶ Examining the Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port Module
▶ Looking at the Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F and Flex-10 Ethernet modules
▶ Getting to know the Virtual Connect Fibre Channel modules
▶ Building a c-Class enclosure
I
n this chapter, we discuss the Virtual Connect modules
and how they work, so you can get a better idea of how
Virtual Connect technology will work in your business and
decide which are the best choices for you.
This analysis requires that we get into more technical detail
about Virtual Connect — not so technical that it becomes
unreadable, but enough to help you get a more in-depth
understanding about Virtual Connect products.
Virtual Connect works with the HP BladeSystem c-Class series
of enclosures, which comes in two different models: the c7000
and c3000. The difference is that the c3000 holds up to four
full-height or eight half-height server blades with four bays for
interconnect modules. The c7000 holds double what the c3000
holds: 8 full-height server blades or 16 half-height blades and
8 rear bays for interconnect modules.
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric
10Gb/24-Port Module
Server edge consolidation has improved considerably with
the introduction of the Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24Port Module. The Virtual Connect FlexFabric Module allows
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
you to bring Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and high performance
iSCSI into a single module. Because the Virtual Connect
FlexFabric Module uses industry standard Ethernet and Fibre
Channel on its uplinks, it will happily communicate in existing
environments using those protocols.
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric module also includes 10Gb
downlink connections to the servers and offers a combination of uplinks to the data center network. What’s more, the
Virtual Connect FlexFabric module is single-wide so you can
install two of them side by side in the enclosure interconnect bays for redundancy. You can stack the Virtual Connect
FlexFabric modules in up to four enclosures and your IT team
can manage them using Virtual Connect Manager or Virtual
Connect Enterprise Manager.
The Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port Module (see
Figure 4-1) includes the following features:
✓ It has 16 10Gb downlinks to servers. That is, the module
has one connection to one FlexFabric Adapter on each of
16 half-height servers, or if you have full-height servers,
the module connects with two FlexFabric Adapters on
each of the 8 servers. The module connects automatically across the signal midplane in the c-Class enclosure.
✓ It provides ten uplink ports to the data center network
including:
• Four 10Gb SR, LR fiber and copper SFP+ (Ethernet
and Fibre Channel)
• Four 10Gb SR, LRM and LR fiber and copper SFP+
(Ethernet)
• Two 10Gb internal cross-connect links for stacking
and failover when there is another Virtual Connect
FlexFabric module beside it
✓ It supports a wide variety of signal-aggregation methods
including NPIV, VLANs, EtherChannel, NIC teaming, and
shared port uplinks.
✓ FlexFabric modules in four enclosures can be stacked
together with cables so you can manage four enclosures
of Virtual Connect modules as one management domain.
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Chapter 4: Virtual Connect Modules
Figure 4-1: The HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port Module.
The Virtual Connect
Ethernet Modules
HP offers two Virtual Connect Ethernet modules today. As
with the FlexFabric module, both modules are single-wide so
you can install two of them side by side in the enclosure interconnect bays for redundancy. They can also be stacked in up
to four enclosures and can be managed using Virtual Connect
Manager or Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager.
The Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F
Ethernet Module
The Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F Ethernet Module includes 1Gb
downlink connections to the servers and offers a combination
of 1Gb and 10Gb uplinks to the data center network.
The Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F (see Figure 4-2) module includes
the following features:
✓ It has 16 1Gb downlinks to servers. That is, the Virtual
Connect Ethernet module has one connection to one
NIC on each of 16 half-height servers, or if you have fullheight servers, the module connects with two NICs on
each of the eight servers. The module connects automatically across the signal midplane in the c-Class enclosure.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
✓ It provides ten uplink ports to the data center network
including:
• Four RJ45 copper Ethernet connectors
• Two 1Gb SFP for Ethernet fiber or copper media
• Two 10Gb XFP modules for multiple types of fiber
• One 10Gb CX4 connector for stacking cables
• One 10Gb internal cross-connect link for stacking
and failover when there is another Virtual Connect
Ethernet module beside it
✓ All external 1Gb and 10Gb ports are active all the time,
with 16Gb of connectivity down to the servers and 36Gb
available for uplinking to the data center switches. So no
bandwidth oversubscription is necessary.
✓ It supports a wide variety of signal-aggregation methods
including VLANs, EtherChannel, NIC teaming, and shared
port uplinks.
✓ Ethernet modules in four enclosures can be stacked
together with cables so you can manage four enclosures
of Virtual Connect modules as one management domain.
Figure 4-2: The HP Virtual Connect 1/10Gb-F Ethernet module.
The Virtual Connect Flex-10
10Gb Ethernet Module
The Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet Module (Figure
4-3) looks a bit different than the 1/10Gb-F Ethernet module
but the two work seamlessly together.
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Chapter 4: Virtual Connect Modules
Figure 4-3: The HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 10Gb Ethernet module.
You would expect the Virtual Connect Flex-10 module to play
well with Flex-10 NICs, but the Flex-10 module will also autonegotiate to a single 1Gb or 10Gb connection if you connect
any other kind of NIC to it.
Each module provides eight 10Gb active uplink ports at one
time, two of which are shared with the cross-links. All external
ports, except for the CX-4 port, use SFP+ transceiver modules
that come in a variety of copper and fiber media versions to
fit your specific needs.
The Virtual Connect Flex-10 module is also flexible (hence
its name) because its external connection ports can support
either 1Gb or 10Gb transceivers. Therefore, you don’t need
to start with a 10Gb network infrastructure right away — you
can plug multiple SFP (small form-factor pluggable) transceivers into the external connection ports and connect all the 1Gb
(or slower) ports you need, and/or mix and match 1Gb SFP
and 10Gb SFP+ links. This means you can start with the network you have today and grow to a full 10Gb infrastructure at
your own pace. The ability to use one NIC port split into four
FlexNICs and control NIC bandwidth applies to both 1Gb and
10Gb infrastructures.
The Fibre Channel Modules
HP offers three models of the Virtual Connect Fibre Channel
(FC) module today: a 4Gb module and two faster 8Gb modules
with more bandwidth to support virtualization or other high
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
bandwidth applications. You will need to have at least one
Virtual Connect Ethernet or FlexFabric module installed in
the same enclosure along with the FC modules because the
embedded device monitoring and management, including
Virtual Connect Manager, runs on the Ethernet or FlexFabric
modules. The following sections go over the three models in
more detail.
Virtual Connect 4Gb FC Module
The Virtual Connect 4Gb FC (Figure 4-4) Module connects
across the signal midplane to 1 HBA mezzanine cards on each
of the 16 half-height servers.
The Fibre Channel modules use N_Port ID Virtualization, or
NPIV, which is a Fibre Channel standard that enables multiple
HBAs to share a single network port. NPIV does a great job
of reducing the number of Fibre Channel cables needed in
the network, and since NPIV isn’t a switch, it doesn’t count
against a SAN fabric domain ID limit.
Figure 4-4: The HP Virtual Connect 4Gb Fibre Channel module.
This model provides four uplink SFP ports to connect to your
data center FC switches, and it also auto-negotiates to match
the bandwidth of your 1Gb, 2Gb, or 4Gb Fibre Channel SAN.
Virtual Connect 8Gb 20-Port
Fibre Channel Module
The HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 20-Port Fibre Channel (FC)
Module (Figure 4-5) operates just like the 4Gb model except
it doubles the bandwidth and offers the lowest cost per port.
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Chapter 4: Virtual Connect Modules
It also brings next generation 8Gb technology that includes
backward compatibility with 2Gb and 4Gb networks. It is
ideal for environments and applications that require high
bandwidth connections, increased network management, and
role-based security features. (And who isn’t looking to save
money, get more speed, and acquire easy management features these days?)
Figure 4-5: The HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 20-Port Fibre Channel Module.
Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port
Fibre Channel Module
The HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port Fibre Channel (FC)
Module (Figure 4-6) operates just like the 20-Port 8Gb model,
but it has two additional advantages: It offers twice as many
uplink ports for greater flexibility and less oversubscription,
and it supports twice as many NPIV connections per HBA.
This module offers the greatest density of ports in the Virtual
Connect Fibre Channel line and is ideal for virtual machine
environments.
Figure 4-6: The HP Virtual Connect 8Gb 24-Port Fibre Channel Module.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
Building a c-Class Enclosure
Because Virtual Connect modules are built for c-Class enclosures, they all have the same size and form factor so they’ll
plug into any of the interconnect bays in a c3000 or c7000
enclosure. If you plug in two of the same model side-by-side,
you get redundant access to the NICs or HBAs on each server.
To connect to your LANs and SANs using Virtual Connect
modules, you need to do the following:
✓ Connect the Virtual Connect Ethernet modules to the
data center Ethernet switches.
✓ Connect the Virtual Connect FC modules to the data
center FC switches. You can connect to a variety of
switches including those made by HP, Brocade, Cisco,
McData, and QLogic.
✓ Set up Virtual Connect and assign connection profiles
using Virtual Connect Manager or Virtual Connect
Enterprise Manager.
That’s all there is to it! You’re ready to go. Turn to Chapter 5
for a closer look at Virtual Connect (especially if you want to
convince your boss of the return on investment).
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Chapter 5
Looking More Closely
at Virtual Connect
In This Chapter
▶ Reducing costs
▶ Managing hardware and networks more easily
▶ Addressing some misinformation
T
his chapter answers some of the “Yes, but . . . ” questions
you and your IT team may have, and also dispels some
of the myths that HP has run across as they’ve introduced
Virtual Connect to customers around the world.
Hopefully this chapter can help answer many of your questions about Virtual Connect. Though you may be sold on the
solution, one or more decision makers in your company may
not be. If you need to convince others, be sure to check out
Chapter 6 so you can tell people the ten reasons to choose
HP Virtual Connect.
Some of the information in this chapter goes into deeper
technical details about Virtual Connect for the benefit of
your IT staff — and some information is for financial staff
that you need to convince, and any executives you need to
present with a rock-solid ROI statement. We also discuss
some specific advantages of both Virtual Connect Flex-10 and
FlexFabric modules. With each section, we include a brief
overview of what the section is about in case the person
you’re trying to convince isn’t exactly detail oriented.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
Cost Reductions and TCO
Virtual Connect Flex-10 provides a number of cost reductions
over traditional server/network connections — not only on
the day you purchase it, but every day going forward. The
Virtual Connect FlexFabric module builds on those benefits to
save even more. These cost savings include:
✓ Lower hardware costs: First of all, you don’t have to
buy so much stuff. With the Virtual Connect FlexFabric
module, you can reduce sprawl at the server edge by up
to 95 percent, cut network connection hardware costs by
up to 65 percent, and get four times the number of connections without buying any NIC cards or HBAs (host bus
adapters). HP server blades already have the Ethernet
and FC capability built into them at no added cost. And,
you don’t have to buy expensive licenses and keep track
of them for storage connectivity.
✓ Lower energy costs: With less equipment to use, you
lower your energy costs. Those energy cost savings go
up substantially with Virtual Connect, saving you up to
40 percent on power consumption because you need
to power substantially fewer LAN and SAN connection
components.
✓ Lower operation expenses: Save time and labor. Virtual
Connect helps the system administrator be self-sufficient,
so they can add a new server, replace one, or move the
workload from one server to another in minutes instead
of the days or weeks it takes now. It also frees up the LAN
and SAN administrators to do their own work without
unnecessary interruptions. Just think of the savings in
coordinating meeting times!
Virtual Connect eliminates equipment to maintain and
makes the work easier and faster for everyone, and that
reduces operations expense.
Easier Hardware Management
Virtual Connect technology provides your IT team with easier
hardware management in a number of ways. The following
sections go over how in more detail.
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Chapter 5: Looking More Closely at Virtual Connect
Virtual Connect module
isn’t a switch
Virtual Connect isn’t a switch, isn’t part of the network, and
it doesn’t control anything in the network. And those are all
good things. Data center Ethernet switches are complicated
machines. They’re part of a complex network of switches and
routers in which every change needs to be controlled by a
LAN or SAN administrator with special skills and insights into
that network. Likewise, the server infrastructure is a complicated system that demands the special skills and insights of
the system administrator.
Virtual Connect allows servers to connect to the network in
a way that doesn’t affect the network at all. So the system
administrator can add new servers, make server changes, and
manage Virtual Connect without the network administrator
needing to get involved.
Virtual Connect uses server edge virtualization to allow this
seamless interaction. Its Ethernet and FlexFabric modules
use tried-and-true Layer 2 bridging functionality, but their
primary function is to provide server connection virtualization and management features that don’t exist in traditional
switches. HP has built in some functions that are common on
switches, but they only serve the purpose of allowing Virtual
Connect to work smoothly with any brand of Ethernet data
center networks.
Likewise, Virtual Connect Fibre Channel modules aren’t
switches, either. They use industry standard N_Port ID
Virtualization to reduce cables without complex switching
functionality or using up your limited SAN fabric IDs.
Higher availability
and fault recovery
Everyone in the company knows (or should know) that every
second your network is down your business is losing money.
HP has designed Virtual Connect with both high availability
and quick fault recovery.
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Virtual Connect uses configuration check pointing/synchronization across adjacent Virtual Connect Ethernet or FlexFabric
modules within each HP c-Class enclosure. In the unlikely event
that a Virtual Connect Ethernet, FlexFabric, or Fibre Channel
(FC) module fails, the Virtual Connect Domain uses Ethernet
or FlexFabric modules in adjacent bays to retain the complete
Virtual Connect configuration. Virtual Connect supports plugn-play, so after the failed Virtual Connect module is replaced,
it applies the configuration to the new module automatically.
HP goes a couple of steps further when it comes to bulletproofing your infrastructure. HP server blades are typically
connected to more than one redundant Virtual Connect
module, so it’s not easy to lose the connection to your network. Virtual Connect also supports exporting the Virtual
Connect domain configuration to an external source in case
you need to restore the configuration manually.
Virtual Connect uplink failures
don’t require reconvergence
on the external network
If a Virtual Connect module encounters a connection problem
with the external network, you don’t need to go to the external network and reconverge those uplinks.
Virtual Connect Ethernet and FlexFabric modules don’t participate in the data center network spanning tree. They present themselves to the network as a termination endpoint, like
a server NIC. Virtual Connect employs an internal loop avoidance method to make sure no loops can be created in the
server connections.
Because Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) isn’t used to manage
Layer 2 redundancy in Virtual Connect, Spanning Tree reconvergence will not occur. Fundamentally, Virtual Connect
failovers between Virtual Connect uplinks behave the same
way as failovers between server NICs in a NIC Team or NIC
Bond. That is, the failover from one uplink or NIC is transparent to the data center network Spanning Tree.
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Chapter 5: Looking More Closely at Virtual Connect
Can connect to any industry
standard network components
Virtual Connect Ethernet and FlexFabric modules are completely IEEE Ethernet standards compliant, so they communicate effectively with any brand of IEEE standard switches.
HP Networking offers a full range of products that are all IEEE
standards compliant. However, HP realizes that companies
use brands of networking equipment other than their own.
Network products made by Cisco Systems are popular in the
enterprise, and HP makes it easy for you to connect Virtual
Connect to Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches. Over 100,000
Virtual Connect Ethernet modules are operating with Cisco
networks every day.
Virtual Connect Fibre Channel modules are also completely
compliant with the INCITS T11 industry standards that define
all Fibre Channel operation. So any brand of FC switches that
meets the T11 standards will work smoothly with Virtual
Connect Fibre Channel.
Easier Network Connection
Management
Virtual Connect was designed not only to provide server edge
virtualization functionality, but also to work smoothly with
the LAN and SAN networks it was connected to. So it provides
easier connection management in several key ways. The following sections provide more details.
Provides diagnostic tools
Virtual Connect Manager has a lot of different ways for your
system and network administrators to use their favorite tools
to diagnose, monitor, and configure Virtual Connect. These
include:
✓ You can create scripts in a Secure Shell (SSH) commandline interface.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
✓ You can use any management tool that supports
command-line interface scripts to remotely configure
Virtual Connect.
✓ You can monitor Virtual Connect with any management
tool that supports SNMP (Simple Network Management
Protocol). Virtual Connect supports both SNMPv1 and
SNMPv2 traps as well as traps for key, pre-defined threshold conditions and per-destination configuration of traps.
✓ Virtual Connect also supports port mirroring or
monitoring of server NIC traffic to Virtual Connect
uplinks for troubleshooting.
Fibre Channel (FC)
login distribution and
failover features
The Virtual Connect Fibre Channel connection provides login
distribution and failover on FC uplinks to the SAN. A failure in
your server connectivity with the SAN is a major problem. So
HP has designed Virtual Connect Fibre Channel with built-in
functionality that can automatically log in to another active
Fibre Channel port if a Fibre Channel connection fails.
In other words, Virtual Connect provides Fibre Channel (FC)
login distribution and failover features, which means that the
SAN administrator can automatically distribute server HBA
fabric logins across all Virtual Connect Fibre Channel (VC-FC)
uplink ports on the same VC-FC module. Should a port fail or
lose the link, the VC-FC module automatically relogs the WWN
into the fabric on another active VC-FC uplink port from the
same VC-FC module.
Other seasoned technology
To continue the discussion on the use of seasoned technologies to power Virtual Connect and give it the flexibility you
need, Virtual Connect supports a large number of other seasoned networking technologies that include:
✓ Network management tools
✓ Secure external management
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Chapter 5: Looking More Closely at Virtual Connect
✓ Private VLANs
✓ Deterministic load balancing for multiple LACP channels
✓ VLAN trunking to server-based NICs
✓ Network visibility into the Virtual Connect domain for
network administrators
✓ Clusterlike technology between Virtual Connect Ethernet
modules
✓ Stacking multiple Virtual Connect Ethernet modules
✓ Single Web management window to manage all Virtual
Connect modules
✓ IGMP snooping v1 and v2
✓ Nested NPIV
✓ MAC and WWN address management
✓ Multiple Virtual Connect Fibre Channel fabrics
✓ Support statistics for all Ethernet ports
Urban Myths about
Virtual Connect
A few myths are floating around out there about Virtual
Connect, but HP has addressed these myths based on reallife deployments. If you’ve heard some of these and need the
facts, here they are.
Myth: Virtual Connect doesn’t
provide visibility into the
Virtual Connect Domain
for Network Admins
Virtual Connect is about keeping things simple. It provides
several user interface options and features for managing and
monitoring Virtual Connect to fit with the variety of methods HP’s customers use. VC supports both a Web interface
(HTTPS) and a CLI interface (SSH). In addition, VC supports
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
per-interface statistics for every server NIC port, server HBA
port, VC Ethernet uplink port, and VC Fibre Channel uplink
port. These statistics can be monitored via the management
interfaces or via SNMP/SMI-S polling. In addition to local
statistics and SNMP polling of statistics, VC provides SNMP
traps for events that cause VC Domain status changes. Virtual
Connect also supports port mirroring, to an external network
analyzer, of Ethernet traffic to/from any server NIC port(s).
Myth: VC Flex-10 doesn’t provide
the bandwidth control that
QoS would
Virtual Connect Flex-10 provides server administrators
greater flexibility to prioritize application traffic by dedicating
specific FlexNICs for specific networks, and providing segregation of traffic that can’t be allowed to coexist on the same
physical NIC. Though a virtual server hypervisor could provide rate limiting features to control bandwidth, this doesn’t
exist for physical servers. Virtual Connect Flex-10 allows
either the Server or Network Administrator to set and enforce
bandwidth settings at the FlexNIC partition, and Virtual
Connect Flex-10 can provide a consistent method of management and segregation regardless of the physical host OS. So
in your overall IT configuration, Virtual Connect often offers
more bandwidth control than you’d have with QoS.
Myth: Virtual Connect users can’t
leverage existing network
management tools
Not true! Virtual Connect supports configuration scripting
via a CLI interface (SSH) and monitoring using SNMP. Any
management tools that support CLI scripting can be used to
remotely configure Virtual Connect. Any management tool
that supports SNMP can be used to monitor Virtual Connect.
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Chapter 5: Looking More Closely at Virtual Connect
Myth: VC doesn’t interoperate
with the Nexus 1000v
The Cisco Nexus 1000v is a software vSwitch that works in a
VMware hypervisor. It interoperates with any other Layer 2
networking device that supports industry standard protocols.
Even the vPC-HM (Virtual Port Channel – Host Mode; where
MAC addresses are pinned to dvUplinkPorts) supports Layer
2 devices that can’t support LACP upstream. Virtual Connect
is pure industry standard Layer 2, so it works just fine with
the Nexus 1000v.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
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Chapter 6
Ten Benefits of HP
Virtual Connect
In This Chapter
▶ Using fewer cables and switches
▶ Getting more server I/O
▶ Reducing staff time
▶ Achieving flexibility and redundant access
▶ Solving a lot of problems
D
espite all the best efforts of this book, you may need
to put your arguments in a digestible form so decision
makers can quickly understand the benefits of HP Virtual
Connect. Some of this information is repeated from earlier
chapters so you can use this chapter to help make your case.
Fewer Cables and Switches
The traditional choice for connecting your blade servers to
your LAN and SAN is between too many cables and too many
switches. Pass-Thru modules leave you with too many cables
and expensive switch connections on the network end of the
cables. Blade server switches are small, so you end up with
too many to comfortably manage.
Virtual Connect is a great alternative for consolidating all your
Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections into much less equipment. It reduces the number of cables like a switch would,
but is much simpler and doesn’t add more load on the LAN
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
and SAN administrators who manage the switches. And it also
slashes the number of modules and adapter cards you need.
Virtual Connect is part of the server infrastructure and
provides a virtualization layer between the servers and the
Ethernet and SAN networks so they won’t see any changes
in the server connections. And the FlexFabric, Ethernet, and
Fibre Channel (FC) Virtual Connect modules have plenty of
ports. What’s more, when you incorporate Virtual Connect
Flex-10 Ethernet or FlexFabric modules as part of your infrastructure, each port becomes four individual physical functions that share 10Gb of bandwidth among them, so you have
less network connection equipment to buy and less to power.
HP stepped up consolidation even further with FlexFabric
modules and FlexFabric Adapters, which eliminate the need
for separate HBA cards and SAN switches.
More Applications on Fewer
Servers (More Server I/O)
As you virtualize your infrastructure by consolidating applications onto virtual machines on fewer servers, the I/O demand
for each of those servers increases. HP Virtual Connect Flex10 technology provides eight functions on a single integrated
adapter built into the server to handle all the additional connections. And if you really need more connections, you can
get a total of 24 per server blade by adding more mezzanine
cards to support even greater virtual machine I/O demands.
Lowered Expenses
Virtual Connect has a model for nearly every IT need. If you
need more than two NICs on each server, which is often the
case, you can dramatically lower your expenses by using
Virtual Connect Flex-10 or FlexFabric modules. With Virtual
Connect FlexFabric modules, you can reduce network
sprawl at the server edge by up to 95 percent. That includes
switches, cables, network adapters, storage adapters, and
more. You can reduce your cost for network connection hardware by up to 65 percent.
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Chapter 6: Ten Benefits of HP Virtual Connect
With fewer hardware components that need electricity, you’ll
also save on power costs of — you could save up to 40 percent of the power with Virtual Connect FlexFabric modules.
Reduced Staff Time on
Configuration and
Management
When servers are directly connected to switches, those
switches must be managed by the LAN and SAN administrators. Whenever there is a change in the network, like adding
a new server blade, your system administrator, as well as
the LAN and SAN administrators, must plan the changes that
could take days, weeks, or even months to implement.
With Virtual Connect, your IT team only needs to plan the
network connections once and apply them to each bay in the
enclosure using Virtual Connect server profiles. When you
need to add and replace servers, the system administrator
can make those changes and the LAN and SAN administrators don’t have to do anything. The network provisioning was
already done, and that frees up your LAN and SAN administrators from the disruption of server maintenance.
Virtual Connect makes the system administrator self-sufficient.
Why tie up three people when one can get the job done?
Scalable Management
That Grows with You
HP provides flexible management options for small and large
data centers. Use the built-in Virtual Connect Manager if you
don’t intend to manage more than four enclosures of Virtual
Connect. If you plan to grow your data center, Virtual Connect
Enterprise Manager is a scalable application that administers
connections and workloads for hundreds of Virtual Connect
Domains and thousands of servers from a single console.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
Match Bandwidth Supply
to Application Demand
Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology allows your system administrator to match the amount of bandwidth for each adapter
port to the needs of the application using that connection. It
allows you to set the bandwidth for each FlexNIC or FlexHBA.
Furthermore, the administrator can change bandwidth settings
on the fly without the need to reboot, so you can quickly adjust
to variations in application demand.
Connect to Any Brand
of LAN or SAN
Virtual Connect supports industry standard network protocols so you can incorporate it easily into your existing infrastructure. By using standard Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and
iSCSI protocols, you are assured that Virtual Connect modules
will work seamlessly with any brand of existing networking
infrastructures. All the faster Virtual Connect modules are
backward compatible with slower networking hardware, so
you can upgrade on your own timetable as budgets permit.
Flexibility with Server Models
Virtual Connect provides all kinds of flexibility. It interoperates with all HP BladeSystem servers. Most server blades
already come with FlexFabric Adapters built into them. Older
blades have Flex-10 Adapters built into them. And both Flex10 and FlexFabric Adapters are available as mezzanine cards.
FlexFabric, Flex-10, and the other Virtual Connect modules
are interchangeable with each other and have a wide variety
of backward and forward compatibilities. HP has tried to
make it so that every logical combination of servers and modules work together in simple, economical ways to meet your
needs. If you’re curious, check out the details with your HP
sales representative.
Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology brings you the ultimate
flexibility for your server configuration standards. Instead of
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Chapter 6: Ten Benefits of HP Virtual Connect
needing four or five different interconnect configurations to
meet the needs of your different standard server configurations, you’ll probably only need a pair of Virtual Connect
Flex-10 or Virtual Connect FlexFabric modules — period. No
mezzanine cards. No variety of interconnect devices. Fewer
spare parts, and fewer part numbers to worry about.
Failover Process and
Redundant Access
Virtual Connect provides enterprise-class resilience. It
uses configuration check pointing/synchronization across
adjacent Virtual Connect Ethernet modules within each HP
c-Class enclosure. In the unlikely event that a Virtual Connect
FlexFabric, Ethernet, or Fibre Channel module fails, the Virtual
Connect Domain uses Ethernet or FlexFabric modules to
retain the complete Virtual Connect configuration. Virtual
Connect supports plug-n-play standards, so that after the network administrator replaces the failed module, the configuration is applied to a new module automatically.
With the design of Virtual Connect, HP server blades are typically connected to more than one redundant Virtual Connect
module so there’s no single point of failure in your system.
Virtual Connect also supports the export of the Virtual
Connect domain configuration to an external source in case
you need to restore the configuration manually.
A Complete Server Network
Connection Solution
HP Virtual Connect is the most complete server network connection solution available because it solves problems that
most IT operations face every day: They have too many cables
and too many switches, too much management burden, too
much power consumption, and too much expense.
Virtual Connect simplifies network connectivity so your IT
organization can work smarter, reduce costs, and respond
faster to business needs.
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Part II: Virtual Connect Answers
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dissemination, distribution, or unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
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BC M57711E
Multifunction with
HP Virtual Connect
Flex-10
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PF #4
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Multifunction with
HP Virtual Connect
Flex-10
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Bringing Networks Together
Before Convergence
Deploying 6 NICs and 2 FC Ports
After Convergence
Deploying 6 NICs and 2 FC or 2 iSCSI Ports
10GbE
10GbE
HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric
Module and HP ProLiant G7
Server Blade with integrated
FlexFabric Adapter
- 95% less cards, switches, cables & SFPs
- 65% lower interconnect & adapter costs
- 40% lower network power & cooling costs
- Plus less to install & manage
Emulex has entered the Converged networking market, and is working with HP by
providing our OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapter (UNCA) technology
for use in HP’s ProLiant G7 server blades’ integrated FlexFabric adapter and FlexFabric adapter mezzanine card – converging storage and network traffic when combined
with HP’s Virtual Connect FlexFabric module. Emulex technology represents a new
generation of server I/O technology that promises to reduce networking complexity
and costs for IT organizations. www.emulex-hp.com
©2010 Emulex Corporation, Inc. All rights reserved.
13_900536-badvert01.indd 66
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HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers,
businesses, and institutions globally. The company’s
offerings span IT infrastructure, global services,
business and home computing, and imaging and
printing. HP’s annual revenue is more than $100B.
More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is
available at http://www.hp.com.
HP Virtual Connect for HP BladeSystem simplifies the
setup of server connections to LANs and SANs, allowing
server administrators to quickly add or replace servers
and move workloads without needing to involve
network and storage teams. HP Virtual Connect Flex-10
is the first interconnect technology to reduce the cost
and amount of network equipment needed compared
to switches, while providing precise bandwidth control
for every server Ethernet connection. Virtual Connect
Enterprise Manager provides a single intuitive console
that manages server connectivity for hundreds of
Virtual Connect domains and thousands of servers.
Overcome today’s server
connection complexity while
reducing costs and power
consumption
• Understand server networking — before
learning about HP Virtual Connect, first get
the basics
• Discover the HP Virtual Connect approach —
Virtual Connect simplifies server connections
to LANs and SANs, and any needed changes
to those connections
• Find out how easy it can be — how HP Virtual
Connect enables server administrators to
easily move workloads and to add, move,
and replace servers on the fly
• A list of reasons why Virtual
Connect will benefit your
organization
t
c
e
n
n
o
C
l
a
u
t
r
HP Vi
• A section about how Virtual
Connect really works
• How VC FlexFabric modules
eliminate up to 95 percent
of server connection sprawl
• The simple, powerful
management tools for
Virtual Connect
• Answers to your questions
on Virtual Connect
• A new chapter on converging
your IT infrastructure
Making Everything Easier! ™
Learn:
• Get the lowdown on HP Virtual Connect
benefits — all the details you need to know
to understand what Virtual Connect does
and what it can do for you
• What’s new with Virtual
Connect and all about the
new FlexFabric module
Go to Dummies.com®
• How HP Virtual Connect
simplifies your data center,
lowers costs, and saves time
for videos, step-by-step examples,
how-to articles, or to shop!
• About the HP Virtual
Connect product family
Not for resale
Client Tracking Number: 4AA3-1106ENW
ISBN: 978-0-470-90053-6
2nd Edition
Eric Butow is CEO of Butow Communications
Group, a Web design and technical marketing
firm in Jackson, California. Bill Dicke is HP Virtual
Connect Strategy Manager, working on technology
and development. John Joyal is a Product Lifecycle
Manager for HP Virtual Connect focused on
marketing and communications.
2nd Edition
Open the book and find:
HP Virtual Connect
With HP Virtual Connect, you can simplify your
server connectivity to your networks — and reduce
cables without adding switches to manage. System
administrators become self-sufficient to add or
replace servers and move workloads from one
server to another in minutes, while freeing LAN
and SAN administrators from common server tasks.
Compliments of
Eric Butow
Bill Dicke
John Joyal
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