Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

News

2/8/2011
03:36 PM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
50%
50%

What If FCoE Were Free?

Intel recently announced Open FCoE, a software implementation of the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol that had only previously been available in expensive Converged Network Adapters (CNA) desinged to work on standard Ethernet hardware. Assuming that you use 10GbE LAN on Motherboard (LOM), which we discussed in our

Intel recently announced Open FCoE, a software implementation of the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol that had only previously been available in expensive Converged Network Adapters (CNA) desinged to work on standard Ethernet hardware. Assuming that you use 10GbE LAN on Motherboard (LOM), which we discussed in our last entry, it becomes prominent in servers and you might be able to have FCoE for free.Cost savings when it comes to infrastructure consolidation is not simple math yet. You have to factor in the savings of cables, interface cards and potentially infrastructure management. While those are all compelling factors, it may not be enough for an IT Manager to switch from their existing fibre channel fabric. If FCoE were available for free as a software load then the calculation changes significantly. By doing so you would replace the cost of a pair of CNAs for a pair of onboard 10GbE LOMs which could be a savings of more than $4,000 per connected host. You also make implementation much easier as the servers don't need to be opened up. Assuming that within the year every server ships with a 10GbE LOM the move to FCoE could be much more rapid than originally thought.

The first question is what do you give up? We don't yet have enough data across a variety of platforms to know for sure with Open FCoE, but it is a safe assumption that you are going to loose some CPU performance since that CPU is now handling the work of what used to be done by a CNA. Of course the follow up question will be do you need all that CPU performance? If the CPU utilization in your physical server never goes above 50% I'm not sure that doing FCoE purely in software will matter all that much. In other words the CPU is looking for something to do anyway. What you may give up with software based FCoE is some constancy of performance. This again ties into the processor load. If you load up the processor with a lot of tasks and then also have a spike in storage traffic then something, probably storage I/O, will have to give. So if you have workloads that can randomly peak a software based implementation of FCoE may not be the best choice.

My guess, and I think so is Intel's, is that there is a lot of servers that have plenty of excess CPU utilization and the software load of FCoE will be a non issue. The impact of this could be a very cost effective way to deploy FCoE. For the first time the fibre protocol can compete with iSCSI and NAS from a cost perspective. That is a winner for storage managers with a fibre investment and may be enough to keep them from deploying iSCSI or NAS. As we discussed in our article "What is TRILL's Role in FCoE Storage Networks?" all these protocols will benefit from Ethernet Fabric and Trill. If you are already a fibre channel based data center this may make the transition to the converged, lossless Ethernet Fabric even more appealing. The other winner will be the Ethernet Fabric switch manufacturers themselves. You could say that they may loose some HBA business but it may be HBA business they never were going to get because the customer was going to switch to iSCSI or NAS. I think they would rather sell the ports than the HBAs anyway.

Maybe the bigger question is FCoE in software a replacement for iSCSI or NAS? That is something we will address in a future entry.

Track us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/storageswiss

Subscribe to our RSS feed.

George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

Comment  | 
Email This  | 
Print  | 
RSS
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
All Videos
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Back Issues | Must Reads
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-30481
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-10
Valve Steam through 2021-04-10, when a Source engine game is installed, allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary code because of a buffer overflow that occurs for a Steam invite after one click.
CVE-2021-20020
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-10
A command execution vulnerability in SonicWall GMS 9.3 allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to locally escalate privilege to root.
CVE-2021-30480
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Zoom Chat through 2021-04-09 on Windows and macOS allows certain remote authenticated attackers to execute arbitrary code without user interaction. An attacker must be within the same organization, or an external party who has been accepted as a contact. NOTE: this is specific to the Zoom Chat softw...
CVE-2021-21194
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in screen sharing in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2021-21195
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in V8 in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.