Blog Feed Post

Despite being declared dead, Fibre Channel continues to evolve with FC-BB-6

Despite being declared dead, Fibre Channel continues to evolve with FC-BB-6

By Greg Schulz

Despite being declared dead, Fibre Channel continues to evolve with FC-BB-6

Like many technologies that have been around for more than a decade or two, they often get declared dead when something new appears and Fibre Channel (FC) for networking with your servers and storage falls into that category. It seems like just yesterday when iSCSI was appearing on the storage networking scene in the early 2000s that FC was declared dead yet it remains and continues to evolve including moving over Ethernet with FC over Ethernet (FCoE).

Recently the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) made an announcement on the continued development and enhancements including FC-BB-6 that applies to both "classic" or "legacy" FC as well as the newer and emerging FCoE implementations. FCIA is not alone in the FCIA activity as they are as the name implies the industry consortium that works with the T11 standards folks. T11 is a Technical Committee of the International Committee on Information Technology Standards (INCITS, pronounced "insights").

FCIA Fibre Channel Industry Association

Keep in mind that a couple of pieces to Fibre Channel which are the upper levels and lower level transports.

With FCoE, the upper level portions get mapped natively on Ethernet without having to map on top of IP as happens with distance extension using FCIP.

Likewise FCoE is more than simply mapping one of the FC upper level protocols (ULPs) such as the SCSI command set (aka SCSI_FCP) on IP (e.g. iSCSI). Think of ULPs almost in a way as a guest that gets transported or carried across the network, however lets also be careful not to play the software defined network (SDN) or virtual network, network virtualization or IO virtualization (IOV) card, or at least yet, we will leave that up to some creative marketers ;).

At the heart of the Fibre Channel beyond the cable and encoding scheme are a set of protocols, command sets and one in particular is FC Backbone now in its 6th version (read more here at the T11 site, or here at the SNIA site).

Some of the highlights of the FCIA announcement include:

VN2VN connectivity support enabling direct point to point virtual links (not to be confused with point to point physical cabling) between nodes in an FCoE network simplifying configurations for smaller SAN networks where zoning might not be needed (e.g. remove complexity and cost).

Support for Domain ID scalability including more efficient use by FCoE fabrics enabling large scalability of converged SANs. Also keep an eye on the emerging T11 FC-SW-6 distributed switch architecture for implementation over Ethernet in final stages of development.

Here are my perspectives on this announcement by the FCIA:

"Fibre Channel is a proven protocol for networked data center storage that just got better," said Greg Schulz, founder StorageIO.  "The FC-BB-6 standard helps to unlock the full potential of the Fibre Channel protocol that can be implemented on traditional Fibre Channel as well as via Ethernet based networks. This means FC-BB-6 enabled Fibre Channel protocol based networks give flexibility, scalability and secure high-performance resilient storage networks to be implemented."

Both "classic" or "legacy" Fibre Channel based cabling and networking are still alive with a road map that you can view here.

However FCoE also continues to mature and evolve and in some ways, FC-BB-6 and its associated technologies and capabilities can be seen as the bridge between the past and the future. Thus while the role of both FC and FCoE along with other ways of of networking with your servers and storage continue to evolve, so to does the technology. Also keep in mind that not everything is the same in the data center or information factory which is why we have different types of server, storage and I/O networks to address different needs, requirements and preferences.

Additional reading and viewing on FC, FCoE and storage networking::

  • Where has the FCoE hype and FUD gone? (with poll)
  • More storage and IO metrics that matter
  • Why FC and FCoE vendors get beat up over bandwidth?
  • Is FCoE Struggling to Gain Traction, or on a normal adoption course?
  • Has FCoE entered the trough of disillusionment?
  • More on Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) which points to this PDF
  • Will 6Gb SAS kill Fibre Channel?
  • From bits to bytes: Decoding Encoding
  • How many IOPS can a HDD, HHDD or SSD do?
  • Can we get a side of context with them IOPS and other storage metrics?
  • Server Storage I/O Network Benchmark Winter Olympic Games
  • Is FCoE Struggling to Gain Traction, or on a normal adoption course?
  • SAN, LAN, MAN, WAN, POTS and PANs - Network servers and storage beyond the cable (BrightTalk webinar)
  • Networking With Your Servers and Storage: Cloud, Virtual and Physical Environments (BrightTalk webinar)
  • Cloud and Virtual Storage Networking (CRC Press), Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
  • Also check out these tips and articles, industry trends perspectives commentary in the news along with past and upcoming event activities.

    Ok, nuff said (for now)

    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

    All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2014 StorageIO All Rights Reserved
  • Read the original blog entry...

    More Stories By Greg Schulz

    Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

    In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

    Latest Stories
    "Avere Systems is a hybrid cloud solution provider. We have customers that want to use cloud storage and we have customers that want to take advantage of cloud compute," explained Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing at Avere Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    Apache Hadoop is a key technology for gaining business insights from your Big Data, but the penetration into enterprises is shockingly low. In fact, Apache Hadoop and Big Data proponents recognize that this technology has not yet achieved its game-changing business potential. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, John Mertic, director of program management for ODPi at The Linux Foundation, will explain why this is, how we can work together as an open data community to increase adoption, and the i...
    More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
    The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
    Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

    Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
    All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for Continuous Integration on OpenVMS, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware products and development tools that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
    What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
    The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
    @ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
    Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
    For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
    Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...