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February 22, 2008



Hi Chuck,

iSCSI fanboys? That's funny, I want the hat! OK, I agree with you, current big SAN customers with lots of FC already will want to maintain their FC infrastructure. But I still have to take a skeptic's side. There's a lot of new stuff to buy to make FCoE work. I might be surprised, but given the relative small TAM compared to vanilla 10G Ethernet, FCoE equipment is going to seem pretty expensive. iSCSI products probably aren't going to scale up adequately for large-scale enterprise applications, however, they work very well for things like email and server virtualization/consolidation. There is no question that FCoE will be a very good answer for some, but for others its overkill - a technology that overshoots the market's requirements.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Marc -- I think you're missing a key point -- there should be no cost penalty for using FCoE 10Gb vs any other 10Gb ethernet implementation. It looks like it'll be common silicon, HBAs, etc.

So, go ahead and be skeptical. That's what makes the world go 'round.



My 2 cents...

FCOE interest is growing as a parallel alternative to the predicted rise of iSCSI topologies over the next few years. It has some fundamental hurdles to jump and it is definitely some years away. It doesn't make sense until widespread adoption of 10GbE has come down from the stratosphere. Will it save money? You'll need FCOE (TOE?) HBAs and expensive switching to get the best bang, which is a wash with today's FC HBAs. Management costs may be a little lower, but Brocade and Cisco do a good job of that today on their FC plumbing. Moreover, the vast majority of the customer base (them between the NSA and the low-end SMB space!) aren't yet fully utilising FC4. Sun makes a good point with Infiniband, which is popular for HPC and Oracle RAC interconnects, but has been stillborn for the majority of storage topologies. It may yet have some legs - if Cisco sees the market opportunity (!)

Chuck Hollis

Hi mgbrit -- rather than argue point-by-point with you (which I could), rather, let's see what develops by this time next year?

A few of my industry friends have some friendly wagers on "signficant customer adoption" of FCoE during 2009, mostly nice bottles of wine.

About half are lining up for, and half against. I guess that is what makes it interesting!

I don't know what you do for a living, mgbrit, but if you're responsible for a large FC site (as opposed to working for a vendor, reseller, etc.), I bet you're following it closely as well.


Shibin Zhang

"but I felt early on that this one was very different -- it solved a legitimate problem, and did it in such a way that everyone could benefit: customers as well as vendors."

Agree. It will make data center simpler. It is the trend, but I don't think it will immediately replace existing SAN. There will be a trial period. It also means new opportunities to both end vendors.

Shibin Zhang

A comment of FCOE vs. ISCSI.

In page 7 of following article


, it was found that the software iSCSI had better throughput than the hardware iSCSI. I guess the root cause was that the hardware TOE became the performance bottleneck. TCP logic is too complicated. It's common sense that simple logic can lead to low-cost and high IOPS hardware, but complicated can lead to the opposite. FCOE won't have the same performance bottleneck.

FCoE Gathers Steam

You are right, its one worth watching. It is always facinating to look at how markets adopt or not and the speed with which for new technologies. I would like to see some more discussions aroud FCoE topologies and ecosystem rather than just the merits of the technology. The more education that occurs about how you might implement FCoE, then the easier it will be for clients to envisage usage. One area that is still a little hazy is also the work being done on the Etnernet standard to support this, the impact on the design of the network this will have etc. For some this might represent an opportunity for FUD, unless it is clear.

Of course, anytime a Tier 1 Vendor brings a new technology to market (or announces support for it), one HAS to be at least cast an eye over it.




The biggest problem I see with FCoE is why would existing shops use it? It introduces another protocol (Ethernet) into there enviorment; which means it takes to groups (Storage and IP) to setup / manage it. So the cost savings have to be considerable to make it worth the extra effort and cost (two groups) to install / monitor it.

If you are starting a new shop it might be worth looking at but for current SAN customers I do not see it (just like iSCSI)

Chuck Hollis

Hi -- I think we need to separate protocol (e.g. FC, IP, iSCSI) from wire.

Do you use your networking group to set up your FC environments today? Probably not. There's no reason to believe that you'd need to do so in the FCoE world.

The cost savings come through consolidation and scale.

FCoE is part of a broader range of standards that point to world where a single "spigot" could simultaneously serve storage needs, server-to-server clustering as well as standard networking duties, all based on Ethernet.

Scale comes from the economies of manufacturing associated with components. If the FCoE silicon ends up being just standard 10Gb parts, then we'll all see a dramatic drop in component costs, or should.

We'll see, won't we?

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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