Speed and convergence: following the FCIA roadmap to success

The heart and soul of any technology, and the industry association that stewards the technology, is its technology roadmap. Just like the term suggests, a roadmap shows the history of a technology, where it’s going and when it’s going to get there. The three primary audiences for a technology roadmap are the IT user base that deploys the technology, the development, manufacturing and distribution base that supplies the technology, and the industry standards bodies that develop standards for the technology.

One of the best industry examples of a roadmap that has proven to be reliable and trustworthy is the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) roadmap for Fibre Channel data rate evolution; now known as the “Speedmap”, because it specifically maps Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel Over Ethernet data rate speeds. Since 1997, this Speedmap has been spot-on. FCIA’s success in delivering 17 years of accurate roadmaps come from the seriousness FCIA takes in this huge responsibility and obligation to the industry. The latest version of FCIA’s Speedmap can be found at http://fibrechannel.org/fibre-channel-roadmaps.html.

FCIA’s Roadmap Committee produces the FCIA Speedmap in concert with the ANSI INCITS T11.2 Task Group, the standards body that defines Fibre Channel speeds. The roadmap is the refined product of an intense iterative process that pinpoints highly attractive market propositions balanced with sound engineering feasibility. The end result is not only an official FCIA Speedmap, but Marketing Requirement Documents (MRDs) that become T11.2’s map of speeds and timelines. The MRDs define sets of features and benefits that are not only feasibly doable within the Speedmap timelines, but also results in actual products delivered in the prescribed timeframe that realize massive market success.

This successful FCIA/T11 process of Speedmap development and relentless execution results in reliable, relevant standards. The resulting standards are stable and ready in time for suppliers to begin their development. The released standards that meet feature/benefit criteria and guarantee functionality, cost, compatibility, power, length, and other components for a successful market. Users benefit by having a wide selection of products based upon open standards in a timeframe that meets the needs and demands.

Other important elements defined in the roadmap include backward compatibility. For instance, just like 1GFC, 2GFC, 4GFC, and 8GFC edge connectivity, 16GFC and 32GFC are required to be backward compatible at least two generations. These speeds are auto-negotiated with no user intervention required, - i.e., 16GFC will automatically run at 4GFC and 8GFC, whilst 32GFC will automatically run at 8GFC and 16GFC. 128GFCp continues Fibre Channel’s long history of ensuring total backward compatibility by also operating at four separate lines of standard 16GFC or 32GFC or any combination of the two. This important level of backward compatibility has been and will continue to be a major benefit in Fibre Channels continued success.

For additional information about Fibre Channel, please visit the interactive FCIA Knowledge Vault, which is full of analyst insights and entertaining and perceptive stories such as a video from AOL on the importance of Fibre Channel in providing deterministic and consistent connectivity with sustained performance to help deliver greater business value though your IT infrastructure.