What a difference a networking cable can make in a data center’s infrastructure requirements and costs…especially when that cable uses Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technology. An industry-standard, FCoE carries Fibre Channel over Ethernet links, which reduces the number of I/O adapters, cables, and switches in the data center.

Previously in Cisco data centers, we installed five separate network cables for each server: Two redundant cables each for Fibre Channel and Ethernet connectivity plus one cable for out-of-band management. With FCoE, we now use a single cable for both types of network connectivity as well as server and Ethernet management.

When we were planning the new Cisco data center in Allen, Texas, we chose FCoE as the standard for cabling. This choice has produced several types of ongoing infrastructure and cost savings, largely because we need less cabling throughout the data center. With fewer cables to run and shorter distances, we were able to hang the cables from the ceiling in Allen, which eliminated the costs of a raised floor and substations for cable management.

We’ve also seen capital and operational cost savings from fewer data center switches and overall lower power consumption in all of our data centers because of FCoE. In the network access layer, we replaced Fibre Channel switches with Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects for direct server management. Our power costs are also lower because FCoE means server designs need fewer network connectivity cards and in some cases can replace cards with an ASIC.

Because FCoE support is a feature of Cisco UCS servers, it is now deployed in all of our data centers and will be our standard cabling in new data center builds and retrofits. For the future, FCoE gives us the ability to support 40G and 100G network technologies cost-effectively as our network traffic volumes continue to grow.