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Fibre Channel over Ethernet Gets Nudge From Intel

In late November, Intel announced that it was open sourcing its code for implementing Fibre Channel over Ethernet on Linux. While not a terribly surprising announcement, it's a good indicated that the standard is moving toward useful implementations.

While encapsulating FC in Ethernet frames will be attractive to some users, it's not clear that many shops will be willing to fully consolidate their data centers to a single networked fabric, as has recently been discussed. The first use is more likely to entail using Ethernet frames to get FC data to a switch sitting at the edge of the storage infrastructure. That switch will re-encapsulate the data for transmission on a SAN. This enables deploying servers without Fibre Channel HBAs that also take full advantage of existing SANs.

That's good news for servers farms where large numbers of low cost servers do the bulk of the data center work. Outfitting those servers with native Fibre Channel HBAs is an expensive proposition, and using Ethernet adaptors should lower the price considerably.

Intel's announcement has the potential to set an ad hoc standard for deploying FCoE on Linux. And as FCoE matures, data center architects will be tasked with choosing between it, iSCSI and native FC, and there are reasons to like each. Native Fibre Channel is still more robust that FCoE " and will continue to have its adherents, and iSCSI is truly intended for single-fabric applications.

bulletXsigo Virtualizes I/O, Running Ethernet and Fibre Channel Over Infiniband
FCoE: The Latest Standard We Don't Need
FCoE is either the long-awaited common infrastructure that can run standard network and storage applications or the last gasp of the Fibre Channel industry about to drown in the tsunami that is iSCSI.