FICON promises speed boost for mainframe connections, backup

Find out what the benefits of FICON are.

In the early 1990s, IBM introduced ESCON, an optical fiber-based technology for connecting peripherals to mainframes....

According to Chris Saul, product manager with IBM in San Jose, some regard it as the first SAN.

However, ESCON had gotten rather long in the tooth -- with a speed of just 17 MB/second. Late last year, IBM introduced FICON. FICON is much faster -- 100 MB/sec -- and uses standard Fibre Channel technology. It can also use the same switches as a regular SAN.

According to IBM, the most obvious benefits of FICON connectivity are increased per channel bandwidth and greater simplicity of channel fabric. This speed allows customers to collapse existing ESCON channels into FICON channels at a ratio of approximately 4:1, or in some cases more if ESCON channel utilization is relatively low. The company also claims greater simplicity of configuration because the FICON architecture allows more devices per channel (up to 16,384).

Saul, says one of the most significant user benefits is that backup and recovery involving tape can now be done in about half the time.

Mike Kahn, analyst at Clipper Group, Needham, Mass., agrees FICON is a clear speed improvement. He also sees benefits in consolidating equipment.

Although FICON is also compatible with the open systems world, Kahn says he is doubtful many enterprises will take advantage of the capability. "The market consists of fairly traditional companies and they may see value in having separate equipment for their other systems," he said.

For more information:

Tip: FICON goes native

Featured topic: Insights on Mainframe storage

Check out our sister site,

Article: Look to the mainframe and learn

This was first published in March 2002

Dig Deeper on Fibre Channel (FC) SAN



Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.



Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:



  • Tintri VMstore T5000

    Like all of its VM-aware storage systems, Tintri’s first all-flash array -- the Tintri VMstore T5000 -- allows admins to bypass ...

  • SolidFire SF9605

    The high-capacity SolidFire SF9605 uses SolidFire’s Element OS 8 (Oxygen) to deliver new enterprise features such as synchronous ...

  • HPE 3PAR StoreServ 20850

    HPE 3PAR StoreServ 20850 holds 1,024 solid-state drives (SSDs). Hewlett Packard Enterprise claims it can deliver more than three ...





  • Asigra Cloud Backup Version 13

    Asigra Cloud Backup Version 13 provides an AWS Elastic Block Store Snapshot Manager and the ability to support Docker container ...

  • Veeam Availability Suite v8

    Veeam Availability Suite v8 offers several key backup software components in one package, including Veeam Cloud Connect, Snapshot...

  • Druva inSync 5.5

    Druva inSync 5.5 endpoint backup software stands out with its proactive compliance, cloud app integration, full text search and ...