Can FCoE replace iSCSI?

Can Fiber Channel over Ethernet become your storage networking standard?

Though it took a long time to build up momentum, iSCSI really made SAN storage practical for the midrange customer.  By running over standard Ethernet, fast switching fabrics meant that an iSCSI-based SAN could be deployed for significantly less money than going with a dedicated fiber channel backbone for your storage networking needs. This is especially important in these days of consolidation and virtualization in the datacenter, as storage is an ever-growing component of the datacenter puzzle.

But as iSCSI has taken market share from Fiber channel vendors, it's now time for dedicated FC networks to take a look at FCoE; Fiber Channel over Ethernet.  With 10 GbE being the commonplace backbone for datacenters today and 40 and 100 GbE on the horizon, why not run your storage networking over the same equipment that routes your general networking traffic and which you are already investing in.

To that end, Cisco, NetApp, and VMware have jointly released an end-to-end certified FCoE solution for datacenter virtualization. This collaboration will allow datacenters to deploy almost turnkey solutions for FCoE combined with storage hardware and networking equipment. These types of solutions should result in a significant reduction in the capital expenditure needed to implement fiber channel storage networking solutions, and with the VMware certification we should see more vendors releasing FCoE solutions designed to work in virtualized environments.

FCoE is ANSI Standard FC-BB-5 and work continues on the next generation of the standard. A good location with information on FCoE to get you up to speed is where you can find details on products that support FCoE and information on the progress of the standards committees.