The topic of”a unified fabric” has recently been generating some buzz in the blogosphere, with both advocates and skeptics weighing in. I actually think the question of”Myth or Reality” has been answered. We currently have customers that use both InfiniBand and iSCSI to create a unified fabric and each technology has staunch supporters. So, I think we are past the question of “if” and on to the question of”when?”So. what are the current inhibitors for broad-based adoption of a unified fabric?Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of points to consider:
- Architectural Intertia:There needs to be some compelling reason to change–cost, performance, features, etc
- Investment Protection: related to inertia, there needs to be a compelling reason to abandon infrastructure that is has been bought and paid for, especially if it is working well
- Operational Characteristics: unified fabric is not just an exercise in payload encapsulation, but in maintaining the correct operational characteristics, such as Fibre Channel’s losslessness
- Operations and Management Disruption: what is the learning curve for new technologies–how disruptive will they be to existing design and operations best practices
From an architecture level, I don’t think organizations will move to a unified fabric until they encounter a solution that delivers compelling answers in all these areas–but I think eventually they will move. That being said, when we get down to specific technologies, I don’t think there is any”one protocol to rule them all”. Fast forward a few years and I think your typical enterprise data center will support a mix of iSCIS, FCoE and good old Fibre Channel.So, what do you think–in the next three years, do you see yourself considering or deploying a unified data center fabric? Why or why not?