Fiber Channel Over Ethernet

The year 2009. I remember as a young kid watching the movie 2010 and thinking; man alive! by 2009 we will be so advanced! Bases on the Moon and maybe Mars, cures for everything, no traffic jams and certainly an answer on how to unify transport fabrics in the data center. OK, I am just kidding around about the whole traffic jam thing. A few years back, I had the honor of getting to work with Brice Clark from Hewlett Packard. Brice was one smart Dude that had a real vision for how things could be, and the steps to turn a dream into a SKU. Brice introduced me to the world of iSCSI. Man was I impressed. Some of the downsides were that it ran on IP so it inherited some of the problems with IP, but iSCSI really took a dramatic turn in traditional fiber channel; it can run long distance, adds security, the way initiators map to arrays gave me a ton of flexibility in data center design. There were some issues but I was happy and saw this as the future of the data center. A few years passed and then in walked Silvano Gai... With his Fiber Channel Over Ethernet and a laughed out loud! Hadn't we tried this before with ATA over Ethernet? Hey man, I love the Ether as much as the next dude, but come on Silvano, I need a lossless transport and don't be bringing in PAUSE crap talk in here either. I have been there done that and it never works. I have iSCSI and it is the future man! It is time for the fiber channel crowd to get on board the USS iSCSI and set sail. I said, in a manner of speaking... After a few minutes of discussing FCoE, I could tell that Silvano was Brice Clark smart and he was passionate about FCoE, and I had to know why. We whiteboarded, ran through some test labs and I was very impressed with the possibilities with FCoE. For example, I loved the fact the my Ethernet tools still worked. I was able to open up Wireshark and do packet decodes. I loved that since it was Ethernet, my cost is going to be a lot less. Since it was Ethernet and Fiber Channel, I already understand a lot about the protocol the first time I saw it and I am not stuck in training classes for a few weeks or depending on consultants. FCoE is a part of a bigger IEEE design called Data Center Ethernet. I am a firm believer that when it comes to engineering design, the simpler the better. It just does not get much simpler the replacing Fiber Channel layers FC0-FC1 with Ethernet. FCoE is a stateless frame-frame encapsulation that requires no fragmentation or reassembly. To support this we need a Data Center Ethernet that is lossless, uses PAUSE the correct way (The problem with PAUSE is like the problem with auto-neg a few years back, everyone did it differently and PAUSE applied to all traffic classes), jumbos and a few other things. The verdict; I was sold! I still think that iSCSI is the way many smaller business (non-FC) will do storage, but with the huge multi-vendor support, cost and ease of use I believe that iSCSI will never take over the Enterprise Class Data Center, FCoE is going to be King here. Honestly, the things I really like about FCoE are basically three things: - It is simpler, works great and is complete. My FC extensions work with FCoE. - My Ethernet tools and skills still work - The future for data center redundancy is much stronger with FCoE with multipathing and hey maybe even TriLL will start to get some love! in 2009 we may not break a human out into trans lunar injection, but I strongly believe that data center technologies are going to play a huge part in a IT professionals active career path. Understanding both iSCSI and FCoE along with virtualization is really going to take us from here to Dr. Chandra's dream for HAL 9000. Jimmy Ray Purser Trivia File Transfer Protocol On United States coins, we normally pick either a Native American or a President for the heads side of a coin. The heaviest coin ever produced by the U.S. Mint actually depicted Athena, the Greek Goddess of War. Which gave men everywhere an answer to the question; "Does this make my tail look big?" Of course not, it is just those Athena coins...

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