Brocade rollout for VMware and HQ in Scotland

Problem

Our client, a nationwide trust in Scotland, wanted to improve their IT infrastructure and install a new core switch stack at their HQ.  Their existing HP switch stack provided all users edge connectivity with a limited 1GbE connection to resources on the network, however the switch stack could not efficiently handle the sheer number of users and the amount of traffic being generated by them, due to bottlenecks in the uplinks and limitations of the dated hardware.

Our Solution

Taking into consideration further IT infrastructure developments, providing a need for SFP connectivity for new Hypervisor and Storage hardware, we recommended a Brocade solution.

We provided, configured and installed 8 Brocade ICX 6450 48 port-switches, including 1 PoE capable switch to provide power to the wireless access points.

One of the key advantages that the Brocade solution offers over the existing HP switches is the connectivity between units and devices on the network.  Each of the HP switches could provide users with a Gigabit Ethernet connection, which would then be limited by the uplink between switches, which again was 1GbE.  This caused a severe bottleneck on the network and greatly impacted user’s connection speed and productivity.  The Brocade solution features 4x10GbE links between each switch, providing 40GbE connectivity as opposed to the 1GbE the HP stack offered.  The 40GbE links resolve the bottle neck on the network and provide users with a huge amount of bandwidth across the network, providing them much quicker file, email and internet access.

In addition to the ICX 6450s, two VDX 6730 Top of Rack switches were added to the stack to provide core connectivity to the new server and storage environments.  They key advantage of the VDX switches is that they provide 10GbE SFP connections to the servers and Storage, as opposed to the 1GbE links offered by the HP switch.  These interfaces can also be teamed to provide increased throughput to servers and network storage, in multiples of 10GbE (i.e one Hypervisor/Virtual Machine Host can have a 4x10GbE – 40GbE connection to the NTS network).

The two VDX switches are effectively connected at either end of the ICX stack, which in turn provides redundancy to the stack should any of the links/cables break or lose connectivity, or if a switch should happen to fail or lose connection to the stack.  As there are 4 10GbE fibre links between each switch this is unlikely to happen, but multiple points of redundancy ensure the lowest possible downtime.

An additional 40GbE link (ISL) between the VDXs provides further redundancy and throughput.  Both VDXs have 2 x hot-swappable power supplies and fans, and each ICX switch is connected to a redundant EPS-1500 power supply, giving every switch in the stack two points of power thus preventing any downtime should one of the power supplies fail.  Prior to the switch upgrade, each HP switch only had one power supply and would completely disconnect from the stack in the event of a power failure, instantly disconnecting up to 48 users from the network.

The Result

As well as the improvements to the performance and resilience of the infrastructure, each Brocade switch includes a lifetime hardware warranty in the event of a failure, greatly reducing maintenance costs to the trust.

 

To hear what our client had to say about the technology used, please watch the video below:


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