for data center storage, delivering reliability, scalability and 16 Gbps performance that mainframe end users have been migrating their fabrics to. Gen 5 was first available in summer of 2011, and since that time, the clear majority of IBM z13 mainframe customers have deployed Gen 5 Fabrics to support their critical applications. Maximizing existing storage infrastructure investments while implementing next-wave storage technologies is top-of-mind for organizations. The need to move easily and without any interruptions or problems is required. With the launch of next-generation Gen 6 Fibre Channel, customers are looking at how different generations of products will work together in their fabrics. Brocade Gen 6 Directors enable organizations to both maximize their existing investments in Gen 5 storage infrastructure and to prepare their storage infrastructures for next wave of technologies, such as flash-based storage with NVMe over Fabrics. It mitigates the risk with backward-compatibility to existing infrastructure while protecting investments with a future-ready storage networking infrastructure that seamlessly integrates next-generation flash storage with current and future Fibre Channel networks. To realize the full benefits of flash, looking out over the next two to four years, many organizations will be transitioning their high-performance, latency-sensitive workloads to flash-based storage NVMe. NVMe is a new and innovative method of accessing storage media, and has emerged as the new storage connectivity platform that will drive massive performance gains. It is ideal for flash/SSD. Applications will see better random and sequential performance by reducing latency and enabling much more parallelism through an optimized PCIe interface purpose-built for solid-state storage. The momentum behind NVMe has been increasing since it was introduced in 2011. In fact, NVMe technology is expected to improve along two dimensions over the next couple of years: improvements 36 | E nt e rp r i s e E xe c u t i ve | 2017: Issue 2 in latency and the scaling up of the number of NVMe devices in large solutions. In 2014, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) announced a new working group within the INCITS T11 committee (responsible for Fibre Channel standards) to align NVMe with Fibre Channel as part of the NVM Express over Fabrics initiative. This was an important evolution because it kept Fibre Channel at the forefront of storage innovation. FC-NVMe defines a common architecture that supports a range of storage networking fabrics for NVMe block storage protocol over a storage networking fabric. This includes enabling a front-side interface into storage systems, scaling out to large numbers of NVMe devices and extending the distance within a data center over which NVMe devices and NVMe subsystems can be accessed. The simplicity and efficiency of NVMe over Fibre Channel enables significant performance gains that take flash storage to new levels. NVMe over Fabrics technology enables end users to achieve faster application response times and harness the performance of hundreds of solid-state drives for better scalability across virtual data centers with flash. End users can seamlessly integrate Gen 6 Fibre Channel networks with next-generation NVMe over Fabrics flash storage. With the efficiency of NVMe over FC, combined with the high performance and low latency of Gen 6 Fibre Channel solutions, mainframe installations can accelerate Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPS) to deliver the performance, application response time and scalability needed for next-generation data centers. For investment protection, the Gen 6 Fibre Channel products offer three generations of backward-compatibility support for connectivity to 4, 8 and 16 Gbps FICON products, allowing seamless connectivity between the older generation of devices and storage networking equipment. This enables an older storage infrastructure to continue to serve an organization’s needs.