McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) plans to continue to support the Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP), which is designed to extend SAN traffic over long distances, as it completes its acquisition of Nishan Systems Inc. (see McData Sweeps Up Nishan, Sanera and McData Closes Nishan Acquisition).
"We've always said we're going to keep iFCP," says Chris Drago, a McData spokesman. An article published last month in the IT trade magazine eWeek incorrectly reported that McData was planning to phase out support for the protocol.
In fact, far from phasing out iFCP, McData sees the technology as forming the cornerstone of its SAN extension strategy.
The iFCP specification, developed under the auspices of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), encapsulates Fibre Channel data in IP packets and maps IP addresses to individual Fibre Channel devices. That's a different approach from that taken by another IETF spec, Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), which is a tunneling protocol that interconnects two FC fabrics to form one large fabric.
Bill Burger, McData's director of emerging technologies, says the protocol offers many benefits over FCIP that solve key customer problems. Because iFCP is a gateway protocol, it allows specific devices to connect on one side of a MAN or WAN link without merging a SAN fabric, which is required with FCIP.