Cisco wins FCoE Pre-Season and Primaries – Now for the Main Event!

October 16, 2008 – 9:34 am

Storage I/O trends

Ok, unless you have turned off all of your news feeds, RSS feeds, discontinued all printed industry and trade related publications and stopped visiting blogs and other on-line venues, you may not have heard that Cisco, NetApp, EMC, Emulex and Qlogic have made a series of announcements signaling proof of life for the emerging Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) based on the Cisco Data Center Ethernet (DCE) or on the emerging more general Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE).

Now if you have not heard, check out the various industry news and information venues and blogs. Likewise if you are a Brocadian, dont worry and do not get upset by the early poll or exit poll results from the primaries, the real and broad adoption game has not started yet, however, get your game faces on.

At this point given the newness of the technology and early adopter status, its safe to say that Cisco has won the pre-season or primaries for the first FCoE battle. However, despite the hype and proof of life activity which can be gauged by the counter claims from the iSCSI camps, the main event or real market adoption and deployment will start ramping up in 2009 and with broader adoption occurring in the 2010 to 2011 timeframes.

This is not to say that there will not be any adoption of FCoE between now and the next 12-18 months, quite the opposite, there will be plenty of early adopters, test and pilot cases as well as Cisco faithful who chose to go the FCoE route vs. another round of Fibre Channel at 8Gb, or, for those who want to go to FCoE at 10Gb instead of iSCSI or NAS at 10GbE for what ever reasons. However the core target market for FCoE is the higher-end, risk adverse environments that shy away from bleeding edge technology unless there is an adjacent and fully redundant blood bank located next door if not on-site.

Consequently similar how Fibre Channel and FICON were slow to ramp-up taking a couple of years from first product and components availability, FCoE will continue to gain ground and as the complete and open ecosystem comes into place including adapters, switches and directors, routers, bridges and gateways, storage systems as well as management tools and associated training and skills development.

Watch for vendors to ratchet up discussions about how many FCoE or FCoE enabled systems are shipped with an eye on the keyword, FCoE enabled which means that the systems may or may not actually be deployed in FCoE mode, rather that they are ready for it, sound familiar to early iSCSI or event FC product shipments?

Rest assured, FCoE has a very bright future (see here and here) at the mid to high-end of the market while iSCSI will continue to grow and gain in adoption in the mid-market down to the lower reaches of the SMB market. Of course there will be border skirmishes as iSCSI tries to move up market and FCoE tries to move down market and of course there will be those that stay the course for another round of Fibre Channel beyond 8Gb while NAS continues to gain ground in all market segments and SAS at the very low-end where even iSCSI is to expensive. Learn more over at the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) or FCoE Portal sites as well as at Brocade, Cisco, EMC, Emulex, NetApp and Qlogic sites among others.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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