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Fibre Channel basics

Learn about the pros and cons of FC, new developments in low-cost FC and comparisons with other storage protocols in this Fibre Channel basics guide.

If you are considering adopting Fibre Channel (FC), this Fast Guide is for you. You'll learn everything you need to know to get started with FC, from the latest news to expert advice on implementation to how it stacks up against similar technologies.

FC is used to transmit data between computer devices at data rates of up to 4 Gbps. It has been widely reported that FC will offer data transfer rates of 8 and and 10 Gbps in the near future, but some analysts remain skeptical about these claims. Regardless, its speed and reliablility have been the major factors driving FC's adoption, and it has begun to replace the Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) as the transmission interface between servers and clustered storage devices in many storage networks (FC is three times as fast as SCSI).

Learn whether FC is right for your organization by browsing the links below.

   Beginner's Fibre Channel
   Evaluating network protocols
   Pros/cons of Fibre Channel
   The new wave: Low-cost Fibre Channel
   Latest Fibre Channel news/developments
   Library of SAN/NAS tips

  Beginner's Fibre Channel  Return to Table of Contents
  • Glossary Definition: Fibre Channel

  • Whatis FCIP?

  • Whatis the FCIA?

  • SAN School Lesson 3: What makes a SAN go?
    Understanding the performance aspects of a SAN can help you begin to see where the benefits lie. This lesson is devoted to the inner workings of a SAN, such as latency issues, Fibre Channel protocols, WWN and how the SAN fabric works.

   Evaluating network protocols  Return to Table of Contents
  • Storage Smarts Quiz: FCIP vs. iFCP
    Are you familiar with the pros and cons of FCIP and iFCP? Both can be used to route FC data over IP networks, but which is more easily implemented and which one reduces overall availability? Every protocol has its ups and downs so take our quick FCIP/iFCP quiz and see which one stacks up.

  • Expert Advice: How to decide between Fibre and SCSI SANs

  • Test, test, test. That's the advice from expert Chris Poelker whenever evaluating any product you plan on bringing into your data center. In this tip, Chris lists 10 things you must consider before you make your choice.
  • Featured Topic: Evaluate network protocols

  • To help make your research a breeze, has gathered the best news, expert Q&As, tips and quick guides on the various network protocols. This Featured Topic is geared to help you evaluate each protocol.
  • Article: The difference between SCSI and FC protocols

  • Storage expert Chris Poelker tackles this important and common question.
  • Expert advice: Fibre Channel vs. iSCSI for SANs

  • Storage expert Greg Schulz compares and contrasts FC and iSCSI.
  • Expert advice: SATA, Fibre Channel and ATA disks on the same array?

  • Storage expert Randy Kerns discusses the problems associated with using FC and ATA disks on the same array.
  • Expert advice: The slow move toward faster Fibre

  • Fibre Channel vendors have been talking up a move to 4 Gbps, with possibilities of 8 Gbps or 10 Gbps shimmering on the horizon, but some analysts remain skeptical.

   Pros/cons of Fibre Channel  Return to Table of Contents

  • Expert advice: FC and SCSI drive resiliency

  • Greg Schulz discusses what enables FC and SCSI disk drives to have higher resiliency compared to high capacity ATA and SATA disks.
  • Expert advice: FC or iSCSI for SAN-based backups?

  • Storage expert Marc Staimer offers insight on FC and backup.
  • Expert advice: How to compare FC and SCSI

  • Find out how to avoid making apples-to-oranges comparisons when considering new technology.
  • Expert advice: ISCSI vs. FC SANs

  • This advice details the differences between iSCSI and Fibre Channel (FC) SANs.
  • Expert advice: The dangers of Fibre Channel sniffers

  • Security expert Vijay Ahuja discusses FC vulnerablities.
  • Expert advice: Tools that analyze Fibre Channel frames

  • Greg Schulz discusses protocol analyzers and other tools that support Fibre Channel analysis.
  • Expert advice: Can we use CAT 5 cabling to assign an IP?

  • Greg Schulz offers an in depth answer to the question: Do we connect a CAT 5 cable to the SAN switch in order to assign an IP?
  • Expert advice: Choosing the right number of FC ports on a disk subsystem

  • Chris Poelker discusses how to calculate your connection ratio (also called a fan in ratio) when setting up a storage subsystem.
  • Article: User dumps Fibre Channel for ATA

  • Expedient swaps out an EMC Symmetrix for a Nexsan ATA array and claims it has seen no performance degradation. It has seen a massive drop in its cost.
  • Tutorial: SAN School Webcast Series: Chapter 8, Tying SANs Together

  • Join Christopher Poelker, co-author, "Storage Area Networks for Dummies" for a webcast on how to create a full scale network by tying SANs together. This lesson looks at how to extend the SAN, connectivity between SANs and SAN islands, IP storage, virtualization (in-band, out-of-band) and SW/HW pooling.

   The new wave: Low-cost Fibre Channel  Return to Table of Contents

  • Article: Is low-cost Fibre Channel finally here?

  • A lot can happen in a couple of years. Two years ago, storage salespeople's unofficial modus operandi was to ignore storage area network (SAN) buyers that didn't have at least $250,000 to spend. Now, a new Fibre Channel (FC) switch from QLogic, the SANbox 5200, has a street price of under $500/port.
  • Article: IBM gets back to iSCSI with entry-level server

  • With midsized businesses on its mind, Big Blue debuts low-priced servers that support both iSCSI and Fibre Channel.
  • Article: HP drops midrange prices

  • In an effort to win back market share among enterprise users, HP has introduced a SAN starter kit for the Enterprise Virtual Array.
  • Expert advice: SAN-in-a-box: Fibre Channel performance at iSCSI prices?

   Latest Fibre Channel news/developments  Return to Table of Contents
  • Article: Future is fuzzy for Fibre drives

  • The Fibre Channel-connected disk drives that populate midrange arrays may soon give way to a new generation of SAS drives.
  • Article: InfiniBand makes a comeback

  • Engenio will unveil today the first storage array to offer native InfiniBand support promising users high-speed connectivity without the complexity of Fibre Channel.
  • Article: New SAS products spark debate

  • Recently announced SAS products have renewed the debate over whether SAS will push out Fibre Channel or SATA in the data center.
  • Article: Mixing Fibre Channel and SATA drives

  • Randy Kerns, a senior partner at Evaluator Group, offers his recommendations for mixing Fibre Channel and SATA drives in a single midrange array.
  • Article: What will 4 Gbps Fibre Channel mean to you?

  • Do organizations really need 4 Gbps technology, when many of them aren't taking full advantage of 2 Gbps?
  • Article: Overseas IT powerhouse bails on Fibre Channel

  • A large IT service provider in Europe running systems for over 80 banks has deployed an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN and is retiring Fibre Channel.
  • Article: Fibre committee guarantees users more speed

  • The FCIA has approved 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, but are they going too fast?
  • Webcast: Where Fibre Channel is headed

  • The near future will see a lot of confusion in FC bandwidth options, with 4, 8 and ultimately 10GB coming on the market. At the same time, HBA prices are under pressure. And what's being done to improve HBA manageability and interoperability? Marc Staimer, Founder of Dragon Slayer Consulting, examines these issues.

   Additional resources  Return to Table of Contents

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