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FCoE...it's almost time to get moving!

by Sean Fitzpatrick, StorageWorks Storage Platforms Business Development


Over the past few months, we've all witnessed positive milestones for FCoE...but...is it ready? 


This past June the Fibre Channel Standards T11.3 BB-5 (back bone) working group finalized defining the spec (or ratified) and voted to forward it to INCITS for public review and eventually publication next year.   Is the BB-5 spec good enough to develop product? Absolutely!


Also in June HP announced the availability of two ToR (top of rack) FCoE switches from Brocade and Cisco.  Other companies have also announced future availability of FCoE products.  This is positive move in the right direction for the industry and for customers looking to lower the TCO over time.    


More resources and tools are available today from Brocade, Cisco, Emulex and QLogic to assist with evaluation and planning.  HP's own SAN Design Guide provides great design ideas on how to build or modify existing SANs, including a dedicated application note on FCoE implementation guidelines.


As I've stated before, this stage is very important part of the early adopter Phase I to allow customers to evaluate the technology.  The real adoption has yet to develop (phase II) and it will, once additional mature products become available.  In the mean time IT managers should investigate adopting FCoE for small pilot projects and focusing on how it's going to improve their overall TCO.


From a timeline perspective 2009 is the year for proof of concept and planning.  In 2010 I'm anticipating a wider breath of product availability from all the major suppliers.   


HP's position is FCoE won't overtake traditional Fibre Channel next week, or even next year.  But, now that FCoE is starting to move, it's getting exciting.


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Comments
Anonymous(anon) | ‎07-30-2009 04:26 AM

Thanks for this post. Appreciate the nod to Emulex's work in this space. As you stated, we are in Phase 3 of the FCoE “inflection process” (per Jim McCluney’s blog -  www.emulex.com/blog).

The fact that today you can’t deliver a true end-to-end FCoE Solution has to do with all the ecosystem players getting their FCoE-enabled products ready for market.  By mid-2010 we should be well on the way to having end-to-end FCoE solutions available.  This does not mean that data centers should not start evaluating and planning for deployment .

Anonymous(anon) | ‎07-30-2009 06:25 AM

Sean,

Its great to see HP finally getting involved.  I recently worked a project deploying c7000 bladesystems and it was such a shame that they didnt ship with CNA's!  I like HP blades and what you have done with Flex10 etc but CNAs would have provided far more flexibility than separate physical HBAs nd NICs.

I just had a chat with an old contact from Brocade yesterday about FCoE and its going to get really interesting over the next 12-24 months.

Im hoping that HP will push the Brocade FCoE offerings rather than Cisco as the market needs competition between Brocade and Cisco to keep costs down and all the other good stuff competition brings.  We cant let Cisco walk away with this market.  Ive nothing against Cisco, we just need competition.

Ive personally drank the koolaid of FCoE so am pleased to see HP coming to the party.  Keep it coming.

Nigel

Anonymous(anon) | ‎07-30-2009 10:59 AM

Yes it seems HP is behind the curve in FCoE in their blade chassis. IBM announced a blade chassis FCoE switch, and CIsco is shipping full FCoE today. Cisco also beats HP's 8 virtual NICs with 128, all over FCoE. I think Proliant servers are great and we just ordered  a C7000, but they leaders they are not.

| ‎07-30-2009 03:03 PM

Hey Louis - thanks for stopping by.  I saw the Emulex FCoE Calculator at HP Tech Forum and asked Sean to include the link in the post.  Nice tool!

Hi Nigel - HP has been working on FCoE for a while and we've talked about it here a couple of times before.  My personal opinion (not HP's) is that we will be working closely with Brocade given the route Cisco seems to be taking.  We'll see won't we?

Thomas - we'll be in the thick of things as FCoE gains traction.  Heck, the spec was just ratified a few weeks ago.    Before you get too excited about what Cisco is delivering, you might want to read Scott Lowe's blog post about UCS and FCoE: blog.scottlowe.org/.../no-such-thing-as-an-end-to-end-fcoe-solution.  Scott talks about UCS not having end-to-end FCoE and comments talk about FCoE being a "future fabric technology".   Personally, I think HP is right where we need to be as FCoE emerges.

Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous(anon) | ‎10-24-2009 05:39 AM

Speaking to cisco UCS reps, Scott Lowe is correct...for now.  You still need an FC switch...but that won't be for long.

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