I had the good fortune this week to have been invited by friends to fly a Boeing 737-300. I arrived at LHR, went through my preflight checks, boarded the BMI 737-300, and proceeded to prepare for takeoff from runway 27R with flaps 5. The copilot called out 80 knots …vee one called at 123 knots …I rotated the control column at 125 knots and we called vee two at 135 knots, cleaned up the gear and flaps and climbed to 6000 feet. A quick right hand circuit around LHR and London, waved to Hatfield, and prepared to land safely at LHR. I slowed down the airspeed to 136 knots and deployed flaps 15 …six miles to go and I slowed to 127 knots and deployed flaps 30 …four miles to go and we deployed flaps 40 …2500 feet called, down gear …see two reds and two whites on the PAPIS …80 feet to go …flare the nose and …touchdown! A little bumpy, but a safe landing nonetheless.
Okay, so I didn’t fly a ‘real’ Boeing 737-300 …it was a full motion flight simulator operated by BMI at London Heathrow …but as simulators go this was about as realistic as you can get short of hearing the passengers behind you scream when you bank at 45 degrees over Canary Wharf. From the time I walked in until the time they had to practically peel me from the captains chair I thought I had died and gone to geek heaven. Those of you that know me know that I’m not just any run of the mill geek …nope, I’m an aeroplane technoweenie. Perhaps not to the extent that you would mistake me for Colin Hunt, but Mrs. PL has sometimes come down at 02:00 to tell me that I’m not really flying to Japan its Microsoft Flight Simulator dammit now come to bed! I know some men who feel they have to hide some magazines of a delicate nature from their wives …in our house, I hide my landing charts and cockpit video DVDs.
What does this have to do with data storage and protection?
I have known for quite some time just how difficult it is to fly a commercial airliner, although the experience of flying a Boeing 737-300 full motion simulator brought into even sharper focus the number of processes which must be mastered and continually monitored to ensure a safe flight. Indeed, with the advent of low cost airlines many of us fly so frequently that we can easily forget to remember just how remarkable a thing it is that we can get on board a metal tube, have a seat, and fly through the air at several hundreds of miles per hour as I was reminded in this humorous clip.
However, it is rare these days that a pilot will fly a plane entirely ‘by hand’ as systems have been designed which can take off a plane, fly to a destination, and land again all on autopilot. Why? Well, the reasons are somewhat complicated …and most commercial pilots actually use a mixture of automation and flying ‘by hand’ …but, put simply, computers are far better at automating the speed and direction of an aircraft such that the human pilots can concentrate on more important matters such as not crashing, monitoring airspace to avoid collisions, monitoring the weather to move the plane to smooth altitudes and so on.
One of the more interesting storage products to have been recently announced is the Emulex OneConnect Universal CNAs. Try as I might, I won’t ever be able to make host bus adapters [HBAs] nor network interface cards [NICs] ‘sexy’ …sorry Emulex! …but what the OneConnect CNA product is capable of is fascinating and deserves attention.
Firstly, the converged nature of the Emulex product is certainly interesting as it means that we can use the same card for both network and storage traffic. This in and of itself would equate to demonstrable cost savings for our customers …you can essentially use one product where you would have previously used two …however Emulex doesn’t stop there.
The OneConnect products allow me to not only operate and leverage multiple network / storage mediums and protocols [Fibre Channel Over Ethernet a.k.a. FCOE, iSCSI, fibre channel], I can also offload these from the server to the chipset on the Emulex card.
If your eyes are glazing over just like they were when I was geeking out with the flight references above, here’s what that means in English …and why we should care.
The offload of protocols to the humble converged network adapter allows the server to do what it does best without having to carry the overhead of worrying about the network and storage protocols. Just like we want pilots to worry about the important stuff and we’ll leave the highly repeatable tasks to computers and automation, this offload will allow the server to worry about the more important elements of the technology infrastructure.
How much more? Well, Emulex claim that by using a OneConnect Universal CNA we can operate 20% more virtual machines on a server than we would otherwise. Imagine our being able to ‘shrink’ a customer datacentre by upwards of 20% …and all of the management operating costs, power, cooling, etc. that go with it …by simply using another card which costs the same as competitive products and you can see why I’m excited about this product release. Talk about Sharpen Your Business!
I know that we are all incredibly busy during this time of year and can often overlook which card we select when recommending a server and/or storage solution, but I would urge you to bear Emulex in mind.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any assistance in taking this journey.
Have a great weekend,