Skip to content


FCoE, Will you believe the hype?

I have been hearing a lot lately about FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) and I thought I’d share some thoughts/opinions on it. From the looks of it all your big switch and HBA vendors out there are getting behind it and will support it in their devices. If you were at SNW a couple weeks ago you would have heard the FCIA spouting about it and how it will be the next best thing since sliced bread.

So here’s my take on all this. The vendors out there want you to buy new stuff and increase their short term profits for “The Street”. Bottom line is what it’s all about. My prediction is that all these vendors are going to really push FCoE down your throat. They will drop the cost of the equipment below what their new 8 Gb (maybe 16Gb by the time this gets ratified) devices will be haveso that you’ll definitely have to at least take a good look at it. This same thing happened when iSCSI came out with the FC vendors. They all dropped their prices to compete and it worked pretty successfully. The market penetration of iSCSI just isn’t there as was predicted by all the analysts. If you architect an iSCSI environment the same as a FC environment the cost differences are negligible.

So from what I have seen and hear is the vendors are really gearing up for this new FCoE push. From what I have heard, Cisco isn’t even putting FC in their new line of switches and we all know they are the 800 lb. (kilo for our metric readers ;) gorilla in this push for FCoE. Emulex and Qlogic have devices coming out as well. The only people I haven’t heard from on this are the disk vendors. I’m sure they will support whatever connectivity options the switch vendors come out with.

So what will the users do? The users truly have the power here; they have the power to tell their switch vendors what they want from them. I just don’t see the need for people to switch protocols and equipment because the vendors want them to. We’ll just have to see what the Fortune 500 companies tell the vendors about switching. Hopefully they will tell them to go fly a kite with their new protocol and stick with what is known and has been supported the longest. Or maybe one of these vendors will point out to me why everyone should be switching. I guess we’ll see….

Share

Posted in Snig.


8 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Barry Whyte says

    I guess the major question is if you can use the same Ethernet infrastructure for your TCP/IP connectivity and your FCoE connectivity. A la DCE. However, unless there is a major benefit (and the major issues with CPU overhead are overcome that have dogged iSCSI’s break through in the enterprise market – amazing that even offload iSCSI cards save very little of that overhead) then FC as we know it will be here for a while longer.

    8Gbit is here and now, but who is asking for it?

  2. Chris M Evans says

    I think customers have more fundamental issues to solve rather than whether they should use host based 8GB or FCoE.  Perhaps people out there should take a step back and look at solving all the existing issues in their environment first, rather than putting in the new toys!

  3. billy bathgates says

    Amen Chris, In my shop, it is quite rare that a 4G link is more than 50% utilized, although lets face it, it is nice to be able to use fewer ISLs with the higher bandwidth (and by "higner bandwidth, I mean 4G). I bet the number of shops that would really benefit from 8G is small, and even there, the number of 8G links they need is a small percentage of their SAN.

  4. billy bathgates says

    The comment about cisco is disconcerting. Cisco keeps  doing their damndest trying to make storage management and storage groups be seen as part of 'networking' in corporate organizational charts. Gee wonder why they would want to do that? I'm pretty sure I don't wnat cisco deciding what the future of storage networking will be (not that I have any control over the matter, I can still bitch though:-)

  5. Nigel says

    Its not that long ago that most of us only connected our high performance servers to the SAN.  This connectivity was was over dedicated fibre, running a purpose written protocol to dedicated high speed (and cost) switches into subsystems stuffed with high speed FC disks running RAID1/10…….

    What will we have tomorrow……  Nearly all of our server estate crammed onto the SAN shared network via iSCSI and FCOE over a shared medium, through shared switches (share processor clock cycles etc with TCP/IP traffic) and into subsystems loaded with everything from SSD to FC to SATA running every RAID level you could care to imagine and a few you’d rather not imagine.

    At least you will get predictable performance……. Predictably bad!

    Actually, may be it wont work like that….. I haven’t done enough research into it yet, but it certainly seems to be the way the industry is going.  While Ive always liked EMC’s pitch on SSD, I also see that it brings its own problems.  The industry seems to be desperate to cram as many products, protocols and features as possible into a single entity, be it piece of tin, apiece of cable, a switch or array……..  all under the name of consolidation.  The thing is, I personally prefer expansion and widening my horizons rather than cutting back and consolidating.  But the market dictates.

    BTW I don’t see the big banks and the likes being keen on FCOE.  Too risky in my opinion.  May be 10 years after the rest have adopted it!?

  6. Etherealmind says

    I agree with most of what you say, but I also think that FCoE looks  a 'transition technology' for all those people who have invested personal energy into the FC. I have seen quite a bit of reaction from people who have FC skills and can see that disappearing and they will lose influence in the their organisations.  Those folks are not going to give up easy and will point the finger at the Networking Team and say that IP networking is not ready.  I have put some design articles for iSCSI on my blog. Maybe you will find them interesting.   Etherealmind

  7. Deepak Munjal says

    I've read some valid points but let me expand on some of the other ones. The fact is that customers are looking for a converged solution.  Maintaining multiple parallel networks has never made sense.  You only have to look at networks in the past that have been converged (FDDI, ATM, Token Ring, X.25, etc.) to understand that the future will be a single network to attach all types of devices.  Historically, IP and Ethernet have seen the most success here. No one is advocating one converged solution over another.  FCoE makes sense for those who have invested millions in Fibre Channel and provides an elegant migration solution.  iSCSI appeals to many small and medium businesses that want to build a SAN but don't want to make an investment in Fibre Channel. Cisco is investing in all of these solutions to give customers the choice.  The MDS 9000 will continue to be our flagship Fibre Channel solution and will support FCoE.  The Nexus platforms support Data Center Ethernet which provide the platform to converge storage and data traffic whether you're using iSCSI or FCoE.

  8. Jesse says

    Very interesting.  It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to post to my own blog, let alone browse the others.  So far I’ve found very little real-world implementations of FCoE.  Seems to me that that particular implementation would be inefficient as you’re wrapping a SCSI packet in an FC packet, then turning right around and wrapping that up in an ethernet packet.  Seems like the overhead would be excessive.So far I’ve found iSCSI to be useful in small implementations.  Much easier and less expensive to put a dedicated $1,000 Ethernet switch (a good one, you don’t want to use a crappy switch for storage traffic) than a $10,000 fibrechannel switch.