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Opinion: advantages of fibre channel over Ethernet

Fibre channel is the technology standard for datacentre SAN environments and fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE), writes Walter Dey, board of directors, SNIA Europe. It is an extension of fibre channel storage protocol that uses Ethernet as its physical transmission technology. It is an example of the evolution in fibre channel-based architectures and business solutions.

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Fibre channel is the technology standard for datacentre SAN environments and fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE), writes Walter Dey, board of directors, SNIA Europe. It is an extension of fibre channel storage protocol that uses Ethernet as its physical transmission technology. It is an example of the evolution in fibre channel-based architectures and business solutions.

FCoE combines fibre channel and Ethernet to provide users with a converged network for storage SAN connectivity, client server messaging connectivity (often referred to as LAN traffic), and server-to-server messaging connectivity (sometimes referred to as server metadata or server sync heartbeat). Combined with enhancements to Ethernet, FCoE allows datacentres to consolidate I/O and network infrastructures into a converged network. This allows IT workers to reduce capital and operational expenses, power, heat, cabling and space.

Because FCoE looks like fibre channel to the rest of the system and OS upper layers, it preserves existing fibre channel storage management and utility software. I believe the future of FCoE could deliver performance without the latency and complexity issues of TCP. Since FCoE combines two tried and proven technologies, Ethernet and fibre channel, I expect swift and reliable deployment of FCoE in business.

For organisations relying on fibre channel in their datacentres, connecting servers with FCoE to emerging FCoE native targets, fibre channel targets or directly to fibre channel networks is seamless. It has the potential to preserve past, present, and future fibre channel investments in the datacentre.


The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) and SNIA Europe are working together to educate users about fibre channel technologies.

This was first published in August 2009

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