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4/27/2009
11:41 AM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
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Will SSD Delay FCoE?

In a recent entry we discussed the impact of Solid State Disk (SSD) on the IO infrastructure. Where SSD may have the most significant impact is on the adoption of 8GB fibre vs. Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). SSD has a performance profile that is worthy of the 10GB speeds of FCoE but will FCoE be adopted quickly enough by IT prior to SSD on 8GB Fibre establishing a foot hold?

In a recent entry we discussed the impact of Solid State Disk (SSD) on the IO infrastructure. Where SSD may have the most significant impact is on the adoption of 8GB fibre vs. Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). SSD has a performance profile that is worthy of the 10GB speeds of FCoE but will FCoE be adopted quickly enough by IT prior to SSD on 8GB Fibre establishing a foot hold?In the past companies like Texas Memory Systems, Solid Data Systems and Solid Access made their living providing systems to companies that had a very specific performance problem, often hot files within a database environment, and the objective was to isolate these files and put them on SSD. Doing so often leads to tremendous gains in performance.

As we stated in stated in our article SSD are Cost effective now, the time for widespread adoption of the technology may be upon us. SSD prices continue to drop and the capacity of SSD continues to rise. This is leading to broader adoption of the technology, now entire databases not just the hot files can be put onto SSD, and customers are even moving entire messaging systems like Exchange to the environment. The technology becomes almost mainstream as integrated data movement becomes more prevalent. For example products like ONStor's ZFS based LS2100 can automatically move data to and from SSD based on access pattern.

Widespread use of FCoE is not expected until next year at the earliest. If you deploy SSD this year, and with the price drop, capacity increase and smarter use of the high speed technology that is becoming more likely, then it seems logical that most customers will choose 8GB Fibre for their SSD infrastructure. 8GB Fibre is here right now and SSD can take advantage of every ounce of bandwidth that 8GB delivers.

In this scenario it seems that this might cause many customers to skip the initial round of FCoE which while it offers 10GB it shares that with other IP traffic. When the next upgrade occurs these customers may instead opt to move to 16GB Fibre further delaying FCoE adoption.

At some point a customer may choose to change rails and go to FCoE but if SSD takes off as quickly as it appears to be, it may be FCoE 2.0 before we see a broad adoption of the technology. Make sure you understand your HBA and Switch vendors commitment to both Fibre and FCoE and that it is compatible with the pace that you are likely to commit to SSD.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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