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Some vendors and analysts believe the two technologies will become stratified, with iSCSI settling into the small- to medium-sized business market, and FCoE propagating at the enterprise level. Other observers, like Schulz, think it's more likely storage managers will want the technologies to coexist in different networks on the same wire.
But it's too soon to tell what the landscape will look like if and when FCoE-compliant products do arrive--conservative forecasts put the appearance of prototype technology around 2009, at the earliest--or whether iSCSI on 10GbE will be entrenched enough by then to dampen interest in FCoE.
By offering a way to interconnect FC networks across 10GbE to the rest of the data center, FCoE could extend the life of FC by as much as 10 years, say analysts. Diehard FC loyalists, however, may not be even looking at 10GbE. "They'll probably say, 'What do I need 10 Gigabit Ethernet for? I'll just stick with my 4 Gigabit Fibre Channel, thank you,'" says Marc Farley, director of customer programs for EqualLogic in Nashua, NH. "Manufacturers in the Fibre Channel world ... have a case here that says customers don't want to move off their Fibre Channel. The question is, in that case, 'Why do they want to go to this 10 Gigabit one, anyway?'" --Trina MacDonald
This was first published in August 2007