There's lots of buzz out there about FCoE - this article points to a whitepaper that cuts though the hype and gets to the real meat about the benefits of FCoE.
By Matt Morrissey, StorageWorks Product Manager
You'll recognize this common server deployment strategy in your data center: LAN and SAN switch devices used to connect to host servers are smaller pizza box access/edge switches that are physically located at the "top of the rack" of servers to provide connectivity. These top-of-rack switches typically have a series of uplinks to larger chassis-based or director-class aggregation or core switches that provide communication across all of the rack of servers in one or more data centers
As you're looking around your data center today-where is the complexity in your communications infrastructure? It's not at the storage edge. It's actually at the server-to-network infrastructure connection point. It's all of the cables, NICs, HBAs and switches required to gain connectivity to the plethora of servers in the data center. Look at the quantity of switch ports and cables-all right there at the server-to-network edge.
The goal of converged networks is to take a look at how you can reduce the complexity and the size of this infrastructure to really optimize and reduce the cost of both the acquisition and the operational expenses of this infrastructure.
You may have a rack of servers that could have 2, 4, 6 or 8 NIC adapters with 2, 3 or 4 fibre channel adapters in each. That's a large set of both copper and optical cables. In addition, if you are doing a ToR switch deployment, you probably have large number of switch ports and switches required to support these racks. If you multiple this by hundreds if not thousands of servers in your data center, it all adds up to be quite a daunting management task to manage this infrastructure.
As an alternative, a converged network and FCoE technology like the HP StorageWorks Converged Network Switches allows you to replace your HBAs and NICs with Converged Network Adapters that support higher speed 10Gb technology. So now the number of slots used in your servers gets reduced-and the number of cables, switches and switch ports required are dramatically reduced as well. This means you can get equal or more work out of fewer components in your infrastructure. And guess what? Your operational costs from power, cooling and management overhead are going to be reduced, too.
I hate to over use the TCO term but it's the right one here. Because total cost of ownership is exactly what is going to really make FCoE a successful technology.
We'll be blogging more on this topic. So stay tuned. In the meantime let us know what your company is planning around FCoE. If you're looking for more information on HP's converged network switch offerings, this data sheet provides a good product overview.