Data centers

04:56 PM
George Crump
George Crump
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Are We Putting The Cart Before the FCoE Horse?

I have been in several meetings discussing FCoE with a customer, and we were introducing the network guys to the storage guys because they had never met before.

I am as big a fan of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) as the next guy, but hang on guys, I think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. It seems that lately we are already anointing FCoE king of the prom, yet it has barely picked out its tux. FCoE has great potential, but to advise IT managers that they need to move to it within the next two years is a bit premature.

First, FCoE and CEE standards are yet to be ratified. In theory, not much will change between now and ratification but they are NOT ratified standards. Most IT managers are not going to start deploying non-ratified equipment.

More important is understanding how the data center deals with change. Change in the data center comes at an expense measured in hard dollars to buy the technology and soft dollars to implement the technology. Adoption of new technology in mass happens when the pain associated with the current way of doing things is greater than those expenses. We saw that with server virtualization; it required money and effort to move to virtual servers but many customers feel that the effort is worth it.

I'm not convinced that we have reached that point with storage infrastructures. Do storage managers want more from their storage infrastructure and do they want to drive down costs while making it easier to manage? Sure. Who doesn't? I'm not convinced that FCoE early on will address many of those issues nor am I convinced that waiting will put you at a disadvantage.

What FCoE will address from the moment you install it is NIC and cable consolidation. That's it. Since most data centers will deploy FCoE slowly, very slowly, it will take some time for the positive effects of that cable consolidation to be measurable. The problem is the cost of the NIC and the cost of the CEE cable are more expensive, so any hard cost savings if not a total wash, will be minimized.

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for datacenters across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, ... View Full Bio
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