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Looking forward, Walsh said that new multi-hop FCoE switching solutions announced by Cisco, Brocade, and Juniper in the second quarter of 2011, which allow any port on their switches to be either Fibre Channel, IP, or converged Ethernet, will be a key driver of FCoE.
NetApp currently supports FCoE with its FAS2050, FAS3000 series, FAS6000 series, and V-Series of storage appliances, although FCoE accounts for a small percentage of customer connections when compared to Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NFS, and CIFS, said Mike McNamara, senior manager of SAN product marketing and alliances.
McNamara said 2012 and beyond will see a faster ramping of FCoE as most storage vendors offer the technology, more customers start to offer public references for it, and software-based, LAN-on-motherboard, and 10-Gbit Ethernet FCoE options become more prevalent. The growth of virtualized and cloud environments will also drive adoption of converged infrastructures like FCoE, he said.
Dell supports FCoE through its Dell Compellent Storage Center SAN arrays. A Dell spokesperson said a relatively small number of customers use FCoE, but that FCoE will grow in importance as a high-performance networking option as more companies adopt a converged network architecture and leverage their existing investment, training or expertise in Fibre Channel networks.
FCoE is still at the conversation stage for most customers, many of whom look at it as a primary reason to adopt 10-Gbit Ethernet networking technology, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider.
"Customers are saying, 'If we're going to 10-Gbit, what are we going to do with it? Ethernet LAN traffic won't fill it, so why not go with FCoE?'" Norbie said.
Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider, said that customers are talking about converged infrastructures as a way to shrink their data center footprints, consolidate servers and storage, and prepare for new generations of data centers.
However, Knieriemen said, those customers are not talking about specific converged infrastructures such as FCoE. Instead, he said, Chi will bring FCoE into the discussion depending on requirements or vendor options.
"If it's a traditional Fibre Channel shop, the discussion tends towards extending Fibre Channel, and the cost of the technology," he said. "In some shops, it becomes a Holy War between Fibre Channel and Ethernet, and FCoE takes the edge off the Fibre Channel diehards."
FCoE has a great future, Knieriemen said. "But it's not like the adoption of deduplication, where a light comes on in the customer's head when he thinks of the benefits," he said.
However, Knieriemen said, the adoption of FCoE will be stronger and faster than that of iSCSI.
"iSCSI had a long ramp until it was accepted by the industry," he said. "FCoE will have a faster uptake because of customer demands for converging their infrastructure. When iSCSI first came out, there was no infrastructure driver for it. It was just another alternative. But customers are demanding converged infrastructures."
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