Tour de Service #5: Connectrix Backstage Pass

It has been awhile since our last tour, but hopefully the wait will be worth it. Today we travel not to a distant land, but rather to an intriguing location that only select people are fortunate to see–I have an exclusive backstage pass to experience the inner workings of EMC’s new Connectrix capabilities…and, guess what? I want to share this unique experience with you.

Connectrix Fabric Vision technology is an advanced hardware and software solution that combines capabilities from the Brocade Gen 5 Fibre Channel ASIC, Brocade Fabric OS® (FOS), and Brocade Network Advisor to help administrators address problems before they impact operations, accelerate new application deployments, and dramatically reduce operational costs. Fabric Vision technology (available with the new Fabric Operating System 7.3) provides unprecedented visibility and insight across the storage network through innovative monitoring, management, and diagnostic technology.

Today, I want to focus on three aspects of Fabric Vision:

1) What is so different about the new capabilities?

2) How does EMC use customer feedback and advanced testing to develop these types of capabilities?

3) How can you learn more about Fabric Vision?

Let’s get started…

What is so different about FOS 7.3 Fabric Vision?

To answer this question, I met with Mike Naylor (Director of OEM Business Development, Brocade) and Bill Cross (Global Services Connectrix Manager, EMC). For those of us (myself) who are not as technically inclined as Mike and Bill, I asked them to share an everyday example to explain the benefits of the new Fabric Vision. Here is what they said:

Before FOS 7.3 Fabric Vision capabilities…it was similar to if your car did not start (Storage Area Network issue), you took it to a mechanic (EMC Customer Service) and the mechanic had to go through each potential scenario in a time-consuming way (causing potential network unavailability, Virtual Machines "hanging", slow drain devices, etc). Furthermore, in earlier versions, the customer also had to pay for 3rd party tools to help them access key diagnostics information. [Image Source]


After FOS 7.3 Fabric Vision capabilities...if the same car we discussed above does not start, you now have advanced, yet easy to understand, diagnostics tools available to you right at your fingertips that empower you to identify the specific issue (instead of guessing based on process of elimination) while still sitting in your car. And, if you do indeed need some advice from your trusted mechanic, you can now share the robust reporting results with him so he can help you resolve the issue quickly. The full advantages of Fabric Vision are included with EMC Connectrix B-Series products (used by many large enterprise companies) and also available as an optional license for interested smaller customers. [Image Source]


One of the new tools included with Fabric Vision is ClearLink Diagnostics, which leverages the ClearLink Diagnostic Port (D_Port) mode to ensure optical and signal integrity for Gen 5 Fibre Channel optics and cables. By proactively verifying the integrity of critical transceivers, organizations can quickly address any physical layer issues without the need for special optical testers and can test switch links with only the ports attached to the link being tested need to go offline, leaving the rest of the ports to operate online.

How does EMC use customer feedback and advanced testing to develop these types of capabilities?

To answer this question, I met with Bill Cross (Global Services Connectrix Manager, EMC) and Ron Dharma (Engineering Manager, EMC Interoperability Lab). Ron showed us the intense behind the scenes work that takes place in EMC’s "E-Lab", the industry’s premier interoperability testing lab, which qualifies millions of configurations featuring EMC and third-party hardware and software.

Ron explained how EMC invests significant amounts of money in special equipment to ensure that we have the diversity and scale of configurations to test new capabilities (such as FOS 7.3 Fabric Vision) to emulate our customers’ environments before deploying our products. This up-front quality testing allows EMC to detect and fix bugs (which are sure to be present with any new product). It also helps us make improvements to the user experience (including the interface tools used to manage products) since EMC engineers are actually going through the same menu navigation and processes that our customers would encounter and can identify potential pain points. Ron also shared how he uses the E-lab resources to replicate specific Connectrix customer issues that are brought to his attention by EMC field or remote support teams after products are deployed.


It was interesting to hear from Ron and Bill how EMC is leveraging the many years of experience we have spent to enhance the Fabric Operating System (FOS) code to also improve our Network Operating System (NOS), which is an area of interest for some of our larger customers. During our tour, Bill commented on how direct and field-driven customer feedback has played a major role in the new Fabric Vision capabilities and is a critical part of his team’s requests to our Connectrix product development teams.


It was great to tangibly see how much goes on behind the scenes before and after we introduce new capabilities, and especially meaningful since we looked at current Connectrix products and even saw the beta versions of those products that have not yet been released!

Why should you take time to learn more?

Learn about the new Connectrix Fabric Vision and you can earn up to 4 ECN badges and earn some extra points through the Connectrix Experience Optimizer ECN RAMP Mission (the mission will launch on Monday, Dec. 8th). Your friends may be jealous of your new ECN status, but you can share the love and encourage them to join in the fun. Of course, you will also gain valuable insights on how to proactively manage your EMC environment as well, but who doesn’t like a little extra recognition for your efforts?


  • "Technical Tourist" achievement: Leave a comment on this blog…what are you waiting for?
  • "Video Visionary" achievement: Rate or comment on the new and informative3-minute Fabric Vision video.
  • "Empowered Expert" achievement: Post a comment, question or video to theAsk the Expert discussionfeaturing EMC and Brocade experts (including Mike and Bill mentioned earlier).
  • Complete all 3 designated activities and you will be looking more stylish than ever (well, at least online) with your new "Mission Completion" badge.

Thank you for joining today’s tour. I hope that you found this information to be valuable and relevant. Stay engaged through our special Connectrix RAMP gamification mission and read the Fabric Vision FAQ document to learn more.

See you on our next adventure…

Nishita Roy

Global Services Marketing

Follow me on Twitter: @nishita_roy

About the Author: Nishita Roy