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A turning point for storage networking: Hot Spots

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Look for integration points
Top-of-rack switches are one of those areas where FCoE makes sense. They reduce the number of cables and cards deployed, but don't require a full rip and replace because they can direct traffic into an FC SAN or Ethernet LAN. You'll need to be ready to implement these new technologies when the opportunity arises.

Cisco is driving convergence with products and software, like the Nexus product line and NX-OS operating system, which combines storage networking SAN-OS and IOS into a single interface. The company's recently announced Nexus 1000 virtual switch resides in the hypervisor and replaces the VMware virtual switch. It's also controlled by NX-OS. You can expect Brocade, with its acquisition of Foundry Networks, to follow suit with a combined OS and single console to manage the storage and data network.

The big picture
Convergence is coming, so be supportive of these efforts and try to become part of the planning and testing teams. Remember, the two largest FC vendors made some major investments to solidify their portfolios this fall. Become a proponent of mixed silos. Many companies have already begun to embrace the shift on a project-by-project basis. Network convergence in virtualized environments is still a relatively

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new model. Yes, there are products available and there's some testing taking place, but it's certainly not too late to get up to speed. This year, dedicate time to learning about FCoE and meeting with vendors that supply this technology. Think of 2009 as the year to kick the tires. More advanced companies may start limited production deployments and by 2010-2011 most data centers should be on board with converged networks. The question, however, is: Will you be?

This was first published in November 2008

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