Storage Soup

Oct 14 2011   1:16PM GMT

FCoE still lacking support

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

By Sonia R. Lelii, Senior News Writer

Brocade showcased its 1860 Fabric Adaptor at Storage Networking World (SNW) in Orlando, Fla., this week, which gives customers the option to implement 16 Gbps Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) or Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connectivity. The company describes the adapter as “any I/O.” But Brocade product marketing manager James. D. Myers doesn’t see many companies  implementing FCoE so far.

“There isn’t a lot of adoption yet,” Myers said. “They are buying a lot of converged networks but they are not turning (FCoE) on yet. There are a few early adoptors. Most are hedging their bets.  I think it will take upwards of a decade for FCoE to be prevalent.”

Brocade hasn’t been a huge advocate for FCoE the way its rival Cisco Systems has been. But at least one SNW attendee confirms Myers’ thoughts.  Mitchel Weinberger, IT manager for the Seattle-based GeoEngineers,  said he researched FCoE and found the performance gain wasn’t significant enough to introduce a new technology into his infrastucture. The company uses an iSCSI SAN from Compellent that connects 10 GbE switches to virtual servers.

“We don’t see the benefit,” Weinberger said. “All the studies I’ve seen say the benefits are minimal. We really didn’t see enough advantage to put Fibre Channel over Ethernet. It’s another technology for us to learn, and we don’t have the staff.”

FCoE basically encapsulates Fibre Channel frames over Ethernet networks, and the benefits includes the reduction of I/O adapters, cables and switches in the data center. But the convergence of Fibre Channel and Ethernet means storage and network administrators must share management responsibilities, or one team must cede control to the other. That can be a big problem in organizations where the two groups don’t get along.

“It makes total sense,” said Howard Marks, chief scientist at DeepStorage.net. “Except for the politics.”

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