A Shot Across the Fibre Channel Bow

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Kianoosh Naghshineh, president and CEO of Chelsio Communications. The company makes no secret that it thinks Fibre Channel (and SANS in general) are on the decline. And it's certainly willing to help the process along by adding Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to its 10 GbE adapters. While some might think that would only help enterprises leverage their existing FC plants a little longer, Chelsio has a different goal in mind: replacement of native FC HBAs with 10 GbE ones. Naghshineh explains.

 

Cole: Chelsio is adding FCoE to its 10 GbE adapter line. What sort of consolidation ratios should enterprises expect now that both 1 GbE HBAs and Fibre Channel adapters can be replaced by a single device?

Naghshineh: It is difficult to come up with a consolidation ratio. Fibre Channel-connected servers today still need to be connected via Gigabit Ethernet. However, if they were using FC over Ethernet (FCoE), eventually they can avoid needing an FC HBA altogether. In that sense, this second fabric can be completely eliminated. It's important to also note that storage area networks (SANs) as a whole are on the decline relative to network-attached storage (NAS), which in turn drives the need for an Ethernet-based solution.

 

"The growth will be in NAS, or iSCSI, and finally FCoE when the ecosystem is finally established."


Kianoosh Naghshineh
Chelsio Communications

Cole: Your aim is to support Open-FCoE. Does that mean it will support any flavor of Fibre Channel or FCoE elsewhere in the data center, or should IT managers look for the Open-FCoE label on related storage and networking equipment?

Naghshineh: We support Open-FCoE today because it can be supported on our current-generation hardware technology. With our next-generation ASIC technology, we will support the full HBA flavor of FCoE and leave the customer with the choice of which version they want to use. The difference between the two tends to be in terms of ease of integration in proprietary operating systems.

 


Cole: It's been said that FCoE is a crucial element both for future Fibre Channel and Ethernet hardware. Does this move by Chelsio indicate that you expect native Fibre Channel to be around for a little while longer?

Naghshineh: Fibre Channel will steadily lose market to iSCSI and FCoE. In addition, the SAN market as a whole is losing share to NAS, so there are three pressure points on FC hardware, and we expect FC installations to diminish over time. The growth will be in NAS, or iSCSI, and finally FCoE when the ecosystem is finally established.



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