FCOE Not Routable

Cisco sources confirm that proposed FCOE spec can't be routed without FCIP

April 11, 2007

1 Min Read
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Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has confirmed that the new Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE) spec it's promoting is not routable. Apparently, that's intentional. (See Ethernet Storage to Morph Again.)

Here's how Claudio DeSanti, author of the spec and vice chair of the ANSI T11 committee, who works for Cisco, responded to our question today:

  • FCOE is not routable, by choice in order to keep it simple. Extensions to the underlining Ethernet layer enable FCOE to be accomplished. It is possible to ensure that these extensions are implemented in a single network. But it is impossible to ensure they are implemented world-wide, as it would be if we had encapsulated Fibre Channel in an IP packet, rather than an Ethernet frame. This is key to keeping the FCOE design simple.

    It is not a limitation for customers however, because there are several ways in which a Fibre Channel fabric, or an FCOE fabric, may be extended over a routed network. The most common way is to deploy FCIP, which we fully support and will continue to support.

At least one analyst, who asked not to be named, thinks the question of routing means iSCSI won't be threatened by the new protocol, despite claims to the contrary by FCOE proponents.At the very least, the issue of routability puts a different caste on FCOE and raises many questions about how it will fit into data center networks. Expect lots more input on this in the months to come.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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