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June 27, 2008


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Vijay Sivasankaran

> For one thing, iSCSI is IP routable, making it a superior technology to FCoE (not routable – no IP support).

I've read iSCSI user accounts that say their 1/10G IP SANs are being enabled by cut-through switches and not routers. Hence the advantage of being routable means nothing inside the data center.

DR and Offsite Backup are the only specialized apps that require iSCSI then.

Would being "IP Routable" make iFCP/FCIP superior to FC?

Vijay Sivasankaran

Is there merit in a "Unified Ethernet Storage" device where the device could support iSCSI as well as FCoE? Apps that want the routable feature of iSCSI can use it when they want and those servers that want microsecond delays in block traffic without much load on CPU could use FCoE?

Nik Simpson

You would have like my presentation from last year "Fibre Channel - Dead Technology Walking". The argument is not technical, i.e. I don't have a problem with FC in particular. It's an economic argument, i.e. 10G iSCSI and FCoE will eat into the conventional FC market substantially, further shrinking its already anemic volume. At some point FC vendors have to start looking at the cost of R&D for subsequent generations and make some tough decisions.

John Spiers

Hi Nik,

Thanks for your comment. I totally agree. Drue and you both made an excellent business case for the end of traditional Fibre Channel as we know it today.

BTW, great conference! The feedback I received from the attendees at the Server and Storage Virtualization track were very positive.


John Spiers


Yes, IP becomes important for remote replication and other SAN services outside the data center. Inside the data center things like connectivity management, server failover and security become easier to manage when on IP. Consolidating as many services as possible into an IP-based network makes good business sense. It simplifies your architecture and eliminates the headaches that come from managing disparate equipment and protocols.

Years ago they were pitching iFCP and FCIP as alternative technologies to iSCSI, but that obviously didn't happen. These protocols have many challenges associated with frame management and buffering when not running end-to-end, and are only used in gateway routers to move Fibre Channel frames over longer distances.

LeftHand outperforms many Fibre Channel solutions, not because of iSCSI being a lower latency interconnect, but because of our grid architecture that eliminates the controller head I/O bottleneck. If very low latency is a customer requirement then iSCSI with RDMA & TOE technology is a viable option as well.


Drue Reeves

Hi John

One caveat, I also said that the installed based of FC isn't going away soon, and thus, FCoE has legs as a bridge technology. But in general, you're correct about our sentiment. Ethernet-based storage -- and iSCSI in particular -- have many advantages over FC and thus, further investment in FC doesn't make much sense.

I agree that the traditional FC vendors know that Ethernet storage is inevitable, but one of the remaining questions is whether the traditional FC vendors will migrate their enterprise storage arrays to iSCSI or build an FCoE target.

I also made a strong implication that HP was looking at LHN as a potential acquisition. :-)


John Spiers

Thanks for your comments Drue. Yes, I agree that FCoE has potential as a bridge technology depending on cost and complexity. It may come down to whether or not a software initiator or low cost HBA is available.


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The Virtual View

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