Vendors hype new Fibre Channel over Ethernet tech

Vendors hype new Fibre Channel over Ethernet tech

Storage vendors hyped up-and-coming Fibre Channel over Ethernet technologies at the Storage Networking World trade show this week, revealing a glimpse at products that will start flooding the market in a year or two.

"It's the first coming out party for those guys," says analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group, referring to vendors including Emulex, QLogic, Cisco and Brocade. "This was the first time they were able to demo something at least functioning and working."

IT managers can expect to wait more than a year before they see robust FCoE products, Taneja says. But vendors have begun demonstrating technology developed around the proposed FCoE standard, which is being written by the T11 technical committee of the American National Standards Institute. (Compare Fibre Channel products.)

FCoE will let the Fibre Channel storage protocol take advantage of 10Gigabit Ethernet networks. FCoE enables I/O consolidation, the sharing of Fibre Channel and Ethernet traffic on a single cable, according to the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA). This will let data center operators simplify cabling schemes and reduce server heat while using their existing Fibre Channel storage-area networks, the FCIA further states.

"It's a big thing for all these massive players that ship hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Fibre Channel equipment," Taneja says. "This is a defensive measure for them. They're concerned if they don't take the Fibre Channel protocol and make it ride on top of 10Gigabit Ethernet, that 10Gigabit Ethernet will make iSCSI ride on top of it and Fibre Channel will lose out big time." (See one of Network World's greatest networking arguments: Fibre Channel vs. iSCSI.)

Emulex and QLogic each demonstrated converged network adapters that support FCoE at the Storage Networking World show organized by Computerworld.

QLogic announced the 8000 Series converged network adapters, which it says are designed for "next generation virtualized and unified data centers with powerful multi-processor, multi-core servers." QLogic, which demonstrated the products in tandem with NetApp storage devices, did not say in a press release when the products will be available.

Emulex teamed with Cisco to demonstrate its LightPulse LP21000 series of adapters, saying they will reduce data center complexity and management costs, in part with a common set of drivers that simplifies integration into existing data centers.

Emulex collaborated with Cisco to make the adapters interoperable with Cisco's Nexus 5000 series of switches, which were also demonstrated this week and will be available next month. The Cisco switches feature a unified switching fabric that supports FCoE, Data Center Ethernet and virtualization technologies, as Network World reported earlier this week.

In another announcement, Brocade and Intel said they are collaborating to develop FCoE products. "Brocade will provide its storage networking software technology and expertise, along with Intel's 10Gigabit Enhanced Ethernet server adapter hardware, to deliver high-performance FCoE server connectivity," Brocade states in a press release.

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