Classic Storage Insider, part I

Two SAN-oriented Storage Insider columns for your summer reading list

Mario Apicella is on vacation, so in his absence we present two classic Storage Insider columns for your reading pleasure. This week, the spotlight is on SANs: their protocols and standards, and how they could affect you.

A single protocol in your SAN?
April 13, 2007: This week, Storage Insider is all about efficiency: A newly proposed standard, dubbed FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet), aims to bring together the efficiency of the FC (Fibre Channel) transport and the ubiquity of Ethernet.

[ Mario  Apicella's column is now a blog! Get the latest storage news from the Storage Adviser blog. ]

It's no mystery that the majority of storage networks runs on fiber, and FC is the transport protocol that rules data exchanges over that medium. However, the FC fabric is pretty much limited to the storage back end, and corporate data has to jump over the ubiquitous Ethernet to reach local and remote users or to move to a remote SAN, for example.

A typical use of FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP) is to link remote fabrics, but it can also connect neighboring SAN islands when merging them is not a viable option. The FCIP protocol essentially bags each FC frame in a TCP/IP container. At the end of the IP segment, that bag is removed and the original frame is delivered to the FC fabric at the remote site.

Sound inefficient? You bet it is. Can we do better? After listening to Claudio DeSanti, vice chairman of the T11 Committee and technical leader of Cisco's Data Center Business Unit, I think FCoE can…

Read the rest here: "A single protocol in your SAN?"

Another step toward 10 Gig SANs
April 20, 2007: Sometimes in my work, things seem to fall in place, as if someone were pulling the strings behind the scenes. I am not suggesting that there is a conspiracy here, but last week's column on FCoE, a new proposed standard to consolidate transport for both FC and Ethernet, was a great segue into this week's announcement of a new 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch from Woven Systems.

What's so special about the new switch? In a nutshell, the EFX 1000 promises a low-latency, very reliable 10 Gig fabric that should cost a fraction of the price of current solutions and is open to a future move to 100 Gigabit Ethernet. (Yes, that's 100 -- I had to ask twice myself to be sure I understood correctly.)

The common ground between this announcement from Woven Systems and FCoE is the central role that 10 Gig will play in the datacenter. But do we really need yet another 10 Gig switch? And doesn't 100 Gig exist just on paper at the moment?...

Read the rest here: "Another step toward 10 Gig SANs"