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Will a Unified Fabric Kill Fibre Channel for Storage Area Networks? No Way!

Over the week-end I was reading this article on unified fabric and storage and in particular a sentence surprised me:

The likelihood is that storage arrays will be linked to the Nexus in this scheme by Ethernet and not Fibre Channel. MDS9000 Fibre Channel fabric switches won’t appear in this setup because including Fibre Channel will be the very antithesis of a unified fabric.

Let me give you my perspective on this. Fibre Channel is all but the antithesis of a unified fabric, it’s part and parcel of it and it’s here to stay, as independent technology or co-existing with other connectivity options, including FCoE. Which by definition is Fibre Channel, simply carried over Ethernet. And MDS 9000 Family, Cisco Storage Area Networks, is a critical component of Cisco Unified Fabric strategy to support Fibre Channel, Storage Services and, in the future, FCoE connectivity to complete the unification of SAN and LAN. I talk a lot to customers, journalists, analysts and the question about the disruptive introduction of FCoE does come up all the time. And it comes up in a consistent variety (what an oxymoron!) of ways. Is FCoE going to kill Fibre Channel (and hence is Cisco not investing anymore in MDS 9000 product line)? Is FCoE going to kill iSCSI? Or is iSCSI going to kill FCoE (and maybe Fibre Channel too, why not?) I typically split my answer in two parts: the first about technology, the second about Cisco approach to technologies in general. It helps a lot to clarify how the future (and Cisco commitment) of the storage industry will shape.

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Unified Fabric: A Technology for Tough Times — Real, Shipping and in Production

As I read about forced industry consolidations and our competitor’s ambitious plans to catch up with Cisco to deliver Unified Fabric years from now, it makes me realize the power and effect of Cisco Unified Fabric vision. While these companies have just started to work on these “me too” plans and may or may not be able to deliver even years from now, Cisco customers are already reaping the benefits delivered by Cisco Nexus switch products based on Unified Fabric architecture. Read More »

Wishful Thinking: The FCoE Edition

imageSince there are folks out there that would have you believe we will see cold fusion before we see a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standard, I thought it would be a good time to provide an update, especially because the T11 working group tasked with developing the standard has been putting in some significant effort.To bring everyone up to speed, the FCoE standard is being developed by the T11 Technical Committee within INCITS. The T11 committee defines all the aspects of the Fibre Channel protocols. The work on FCoE started in April 2007, when T11 was led by Bob Snively (Brocade) as Chair and Claudio DeSanti (Cisco) as Vice-Chair. Sadly, earlier this year, Bob died and Claudio has been acting as interim chair. The actual FCoE development work is being carried out in the FC-BB-5 (Fibre Channel – Backbone – 5) working group, which is led by Claudio as Chair, and has Dave Peterson (Brocade) as Editor. Read More »

Building a Better Blade Server – Network Style….

I’ve been asked a lot about why would Cisco build a blade server recently. I don’t know where these rumors and speculation come from. But notwithstanding I thought I would write out the answers I usually give. 1) Cisco is NOT building a blade server. What we are doing with Unified Computing is so much more than just a blade server that even using terms like blade server in the same sentence with Unified Computing doesn’t do the architecture justice. The problem is that with something that is this big in scope and scale, people often have a hard time wrapping their heads around it and conceptualizing it. Let’s face it though – in a couple years it may be the way people look at IT and they look back at the piece-meal, services intensive, high cost approaches they took from 1990-2010 and wonder why no one ever did Unified Computing earlier.

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The Energy Scoop on Unified Fabrics

It may seem overly simple but generally speaking consolidation can be a great way to reduce total energy use in your data center over a given period. The implications of implementing unified fabrics from our Cisco Nexus line is no exception. However, the savings you achieve might not be as simple as you think. Read More »