• 05/25/2007
    4:00 AM
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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

I see those same political problems with FCoE for server connections to the SAN. Even if OS vendors develop FCoE initiators, as they have for iSCSI, the servers would still connect to Ethernet switches and the storage and network groups will still have a turf war over that switch. Because FCoE relies on Ethernet extensions like jumbo frames and flow-control pause to make Ethernet transport lossless like FC, it doesn't run on just any Ethernet switch. Ethernet switches don't provide the fabric services FC switches do, so using it on a SAN will require an FCoE blade in a SAN director or special FCoE switches.

My friend Howard Goldstein, one of the best storage networking trainers on the planet, points out that the one place FCoE is a natural is SAN extension over carrier Ethernet. Encapsulating FCP in Ethernet for WAN transport makes sense for SAN extension if nowhere else.

So, I'm sticking to FC for high-performance SANs and iSCSI for just about everything else. As far as I'm concerned, you can mark FCoE dead on announcement. When real FCoE products start shipping in 18 to 24 months, all you Fibre Channel fans out there can prove me wrong.

Howard Marks is founder and chief scientist at Networks Are Our Lives, a network design and consulting firm in Hoboken, N.J. Write to him at

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