Vendors push for Fibre Channel on Ethernet standard

A group of big-name data-center vendors is pushing ANSI to create a standard for Fibre Channel over Ethernet connections, saying it will simplify data management

A group of data-center vendors has proposed a standard for putting Fibre Channel traffic on Ethernet networks, saying it could simplify management and cut costs.

Fibre Channel is a long trusted system for fast data center connectivity, including SANs, but Ethernet continues to speed up and grow more ubiquitous. An FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) standard could allow an enterprise to stick with Fibre Channel technology but run it over the same type of infrastructure used across the rest of its LAN.

An all-star lineup that includes Cisco, Brocade Communications Systems, and EMC Corp. said Thursday it has proposed the creation of an FCoE standard to the ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Other vendors in the group include IBM, Intel, Sun, Emulex, Nuova Systems, and QLogic. They proposed creating a new standard to the ANSI's T11 Committee, which already oversees Fibre Channel. This type of proposal typically takes a year or two to mature into an approved specification.

FCoE would offer a new connectivity choice and complement what's already in data centers, the group said in a news release. It would allow for extension and protection of existing investments while providing a unified data center fabric that carries multiple types of traffic. It could also offer new, more cost effective options for server connectivity, the proponents said.

In a statement accompanying the release, Brocade said the idea is to create a protocol-neutral data fabric for server connectivity, not to replace Fibre Channel or other protocols but to consolidate networks.