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October 19, 2007



No edits changing meaning - and in the end this debate will be won one way or another.

What do you say: market share split of iSCSI vs. FCoE by 2012. I bet you a bottle of fantastic wine (recently had and enjoyed Dusky Goose, Pinot Noir, Oregon - 1999) that iSCSI takes it by a factor of 10.

Chuck Hollis

I'd take that bet.

But if you want to up the stakes, you should know that my wife collects vintage Bordeaux.

I, for one, can't really get my head wrapped around a four-digit bottle of wine.


I guess that's why I'm all about iSCSI and you like FCoE....

Just like when it comes to wine, I like a good value - great wine/great price/simple and easy to use (buy it at Trader Joe's).

You live in the stratosphere :-)

I'm so confident - I'll take your bet on your terms!


the storage anarchist

At least one of you seems to have overlooked that FCoE is not FC over IP – it’s simply FC protocol over the CDMA signaling of Ethernet on standard CAT6 (or CAT8) cables - with only the slightest of additional overhead added. iSCSI, on the other hand, is in fact SCSI over (the notoriously heavy) IP protocol.

And that subtle little difference drives a BOATLOAD of performance, throughput, latency and overhead difference. No matter the adoption curve of iSCSI, a significant percentage the FC world will want FCoE because it’s as fast and low-latency as InfiniBand, but uses a proven protocol over an inexpensive and well understood cabling infrastructure…and iSCSI will undoubtedly be used to serve the rest of the data center that doesn’t have to worry about latency.

And yes – the same hardware will support both, and for a single price. The iSCSI stuff will be easier to deploy because it’s readily routed and configured, and while customers will accept the higher complexity of managing FCoE over the glass-house DCE cable plant JUST TO ACHEIVE THEIR LATENCY REQUIREMENTS.

I say this somewhat authoritatively, because this demand for low-latency/high throughput is an ever-increasingly significant portion of my customer discussions for Tier 1 (or more appropriately Tier 0) storage. In this space, there is an emerging URGENT unmet need for I/O response times previously unimagined, and well outside the practical realities of IP-based connectivity.

And I don't think you should be measuring the "winner" by market share...there's room (and need) for lots of different connectivity options out there - one size need not fit all.

Now, if there's a way I can get into this Bottle of Bordeaux Bet without sacrificing my position (or having to accept a volume-based definition of "winner"), I'm terested...


anarchist, I know exactly the difference - and understand the downsides (and upsides) of being up one level in the stack.

Performance is one of many things that drives what customers do.

The market is big enough, and customers in different segments are different, and EMC is broad enough that we can serve them all.

But - that said, I'll **STILL** double down - take you in on the original terms.

Heck, I'll even make side bet with you (Chuck and I have spit and shaken on our terms) - define what you think would be FCoE market success, I'll define what I think would be iSCSI market success - and we'll measure against the same yard post - 2012?

On the performance side - iSCSI's "notoriously" bad performance? Good enough for many. I'm ready for a 10GbE bakeoff today - iSCSI vs. FCoE - you fellas game?


As someone who spends nearly all of their time in pre-sales I can say with certainty that EMC will sell whatever there is demand for.

You guys can fight it out over the tech but if our customers require we use silly string as the transport you're all going to help me sell it to them. :-D

the storage anarchist

the anarchist's 2012 market share blognostication (by port count):

NFS/CIFS over Ethernet: 40%
iSCSI over Ethernet: 25%
iSER/SRP over IB: 2%
Native Fibre Channel/FICON: 10%
Fivre Channel over Ethernet: 20%
Other (CAS, etc.): 3%

Translated into raw tranport:

Ethernet: 88%
FC: 10%
IB: 2%

Now, by REVENUE, things will likely look a little different...the low-latency market is clearly willing to pay more to get what their applications require, while the "IP is good enough" market will be commoditized to the point that the ports are essentially free (and possibly uncountable).


A couple newbee questions:

- Does FCoE assume using a single switch for standard Ethernet and FCoE (it sounds like it does)? If one barrier to iSCSI adoption in the enterprise is the dislike in merging network management between the network and storage groups, FCoE will have the same barrier. Who would own/manage the FCoE SAN?

- FCoE relies on an enhancement to Ethernet that gives a similar loss-less capability to Ethernet as exists in FC. Since it is at OSI layer 2, it could be applied to IP connections to make them more deterministic in local (non-routed) environments as well. If I assume full hardware optimization for both iSCSI and FCoE on the same enhanced Ethernet layer, do we know what the latency and performance differences will be? Will iSCSI catch up or does the FC protocol retain the advantage?

- Does FCoE require hardware (ASIC) optimization or is that optional?

thanks for any insight,



If the bet can be FC+FCoE vs. iSCSI, I think I'd jump on that. If you take the Anarchist's revenue, in 2012 it still comes out on top. IDC and others get paid forecast these markets and their hit rate on anything further than the next 1-2 years is not as good as the farmer's almanac is at the weather. It's EMC's blessing and curse that we get to play in all of the markets due to the product portfolio and breadth of customer needs.

Fred San

The advantage of FCoE IS that it's not a routable protocol. Just stop and think, do want the FC packets going out over LAN? even a gateway or router? The packets need to stay within the data centre. Like AoE (ATA over Ethernet) it is a poor man's FC and I'm poor so I like it a lot. BTW, Linux has had support for AoE for some time and there are some excellent drivers out there for Windows and Mac OS/X. See www.coraid.com.

Interestingly nobody has commented upon the difference between the costs of Brocade switches v. 10G ethernet switches. To me that together with the NIC v. HBA cost advantage will be a driver.

Amnon Izhar

Seems this bet is about to be determined. I think we all know where FCoE ended up compared to where we expected it to be circa 2007

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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