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1/24/2008
08:42 PM
Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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FCoE Enigma Wrapped In A Riddle

And buried inside a mystery: It's where my mind goes when the subject turns to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). And apparently I'm not alone.

And buried inside a mystery: It's where my mind goes when the subject turns to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). And apparently I'm not alone.As I understand it, FCoE is a way for SCSI-based block traffic to look more like Fibre Channel, which must be a nod to the demand that any storage network additions play well with the installed base of FC and all its management tools. FCoE also holds out the promise of running traffic over Ethernet -- allegedly a less expensive fabric than FC. To state the glaringly obvious, FCoE doesn't do much to reduce storage complexity, despite all the masking or transparency to those in the data center.

This alphabet soup only looks to get more muddled and acronym-laden as enterprises try extend storage networks across the wide area with Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), some form of wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), or Sonet/SDH.

Are storage customers really going to put up with this kind of complexity? Or will they simply choose not to afford it? We won't know for at least a year, since that's when the first FCoE products are forecast to hit the streets.

Maybe Brocade has the answer in its new DCX backbone switch, essentially a chassis for whatever network type or storage protocol you want to blend. All yours from Sun, starting at $179,000. Ouch.

You want lots of encapsulation, translation, and protocol conversions in your storage networks? That's fine, the vendors appear to be saying. Just as long as you're prepared to pay.

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