Despite its shaky beginnings, Fibre Channel has proven itself a reliable interconnect technology for storage area networks, but the new leadership of the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) says there is still work to be done around security, management and getting to 10G bit/sec speeds.
Tony DiCenzo, who is the FCIA chairman as well as director of standards and industry marketing for Brocade Communications Systems Inc., said that the basic FC interoperability work has been completed, but there are still three big issues that need attention.
"Security, the host bus adapter application programming interface and the FC management information base (MIB) and 10G bit/sec Fibre Channel all need to be addressed," DiCenzo said.
David Allen, a new FICA board member and a representative of LSI Logic's storage standard product division, said that the industry is making progress on 10G bit/sec FC technology and should start to demonstrate prototype products within the next 18 months.
In fact, Gadzoox Networks Inc., San Jose, Calif., is already making accommodations for the 10G bit/sec FC standard in its product line. This week, the company announced the addition of 3G bit/sec - 4G bit/sec and 10G bit/sec Fibre Channel Media Access Controller (MAC) soft cores to the company's new FabriCore Engines technology suite.
Gadzoox said it is offering the new high-speed FC MACs to fulfill the demand being driven by the convergence
The 10G bit/sec FC MAC is the primary FC engine for application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that enable the convergence of FC and Ethernet networks. Gadzoox said that the first installations of 10G bit/sec-ready products will take place in data centers and will enable a 10G bit/sec Ethernet LAN router or switch to include 10G bit/sec FC ports for simultaneous, high-speed communication with the SANs.
The FCIA, which is a marketing and education group made up of manufacturers, systems integrators, developers, systems vendors and end users, announced its new board of directors last week. The board includes Tony DiCenzo, Brocade; Mark Hamel, Hewlett Packard Co.; Michael Hoard, IBM Corp.; Ed von Adelung, Infinity I/O; David Allen, LSI Logic; Bob Williamsen, McData Corp.; Skip Jones, Q-Logic Corp.; Gordy Lutz, Seagate Technology Corp.; and Tom Hammond-Doel, Vixel Corp.
So why do we need an organization dedicated to Fibre Channel when the Storage Networking Industry Association cuts such a wide swath through the industry?
According to Randy Kerns, senior analyst for the Boulder, Colo.-based Evaluator Group Inc., the FCIA and the SNIA serve two different purposes.
"For the most part, FCIA is a promotional organization. SNIA is whole different animal," he said.
Kerns said the FCIA promotes the technology and deals with publicity, such as trade shows and technical magazines for new technologies.
"For any new technology [that is still increasing in awareness], a coordinated promotion is needed," Kerns said. "FCIA serves that purpose and seems to do well. SNIA is an 'all-comers' organization that focuses on vendors working on issues with storage networking, and has a financial engine in membership dues and the Storage Networking World conference."
Most of the work on Fibre Channel is taken on by the FCIA's sister organization, the ANSI T11 committee.
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