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Finding Common Ground in Storage Networking Wars

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When it comes to the future of storage networking, suppliers have created a virtual Tower of Babel for end users to contemplate. (Click here for our latest poll on the topic.) And this week's Storage Networking World has become a kind of Speakers' Corner at the foot of the construction, where proponents of various techniques hold forth, contradicting one another.

There has to be some common ground in all this, but to find it, let's take a look at the various stances adopted by key suppliers.

Yesterday, Byte and Switch met up with members of the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) for a briefing on the ascendancy of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE). Skip Jones, the group's president, who also works for QLogic, says end users will start to see FCOE products in deployments by the end of 2009.

For the FCIA, FCOE's progress points to ongoing industry enthusiasm for Fibre Channel: "There's lots of legs left in the Fibre Channel beast!" declared Jones. Newly hatched specs for 16-Gbit/s FC being approved this month, along with the ascendancy of 8-Gbit/s Fibre Channel to Incits for standardization, only underscore the strength of FC's hold on data center connectivity.

In contrast, iSCSI vendors, while generally keeping a lower profile at this show than their Fibre Channel and InfiniBand compatriots, maintain that iSCSI will be the unifying factor in the data center, driven by the rise of server virtualization.

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