Best practices and hardware requirements for FCoE storage deployment

What are the principal hardware requirements to facilitate Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) storage deployment (e.g., network interface cards, switches, etc.)? Are there any hardware recommendations or suggestions that would enhance FCoE deployment?

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Each server or client on a data center bridging (DCB) SAN must have a converged network adapter. Then it becomes a choice. The servers could be connected to a top-of-rack switch that converts them to Fibre Channel (FC), which is then connected to the FC fabric. Or the servers can be connected to a DCB core switch that connects them via layer-2 switching to the target storage arrays connected to that switch with an FCoE storage target adapter.

As far as other best practices for FCoE deployment, begin with one workgroup or department at a time. Ensure you have a working environment before adding more systems, servers, users, applications, storage and switches. Plan a controlled FCoE storage implementation process that includes measurable deliverables and performance, and validate each step before you move to the next one. This type of controlled implementation takes discipline, patience and diligence, but the payoff is enormous. Also, consider whether the much more mature and lower-cost iSCSI protocol is an equal or more viable alternative for your organization before you begin your implementation plans.

This was first published in October 2012

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