Growing Buzz for FCoE

Arthur Cole

All my talk about iSCSI this week almost made me overlook some important developments in Fibre Channel, primarily the continued rise of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).


Storage Networking World in Dallas saw a number of key technology agreements aimed at bringing FCoE to the enterprise with the expected increase of 8G and 10G Ethernet infrastructures.


The Fibre Channel Industry Association was on hand with the first public demo of the INCITS T11 FCoE standard, showing that FC and Ethernet can exist on the same fabric, cutting the amount of cabling and networking devices needed for SAN connectivity. The group also showed off a number of vendor solutions surrounding 8G FC, aimed at easing the bottlenecks caused by increased reliance on multiple OS/server and quad core processors.


Fibre Channel over Ethernet is producing a wave of vendor agreements in anticipation of a draft standard early next year. Emulex and Nuova Systems have agreed to hammer out a chipset by the second half of 2008 and are testing out prototype hardware based on Emulex physical layering and Nuova's networking technology. It's interesting to note that Nuova is majority-owned by Cisco, which recently devised an FCoE data frame format with Brocade to jumpstart the development of ASICs.


QLogic is also eager for an FCoE standard to emerge. At SNW, the company showed off its FCoE adapters tied to NetApp storage. The company expects that by 2010, FCoE will comprise about 10 percent of the SAN port market, with virtual universal support among Global 2000 firms by 2012.


Not everyone is convinced that FCoE will deliver on its promises, however. In a recent Byte & Switch poll, about one-third of respondents said they did not believe FCoE had any promise, about the same number that said it was a viable alternative to standard Fibre Channel. Chief among the complaints was the expected difficulty in routing FCoE traffic.


Still, whether you love it or hate it, FCoE is coming. The question is whether the vendor interest of today will catch on with customers tomorrow.

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