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Storage networking tutorial: Upgrading to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, 10 GbE and FCoE

This storage networking tutorial lists the factors involved in moving to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel storage, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet, broken down by servers, switches, storage, cables and connectors.

Storage networking is constantly evolving, becoming faster and more scalable. The newest option, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), promises a converged network that can handle both Fibre Channel (FC) and Ethernet traffic over an enhanced 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) network and, in turn, a reduction in the number of cables and adapters within a data center. With true end-to-end network convergence still in the future, some shops will opt to upgrade to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel or standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet with iSCSI or NAS storage. No matter which storage networking direction a company chooses, it still has to grapple with the nuts-and-bolts details around storage, servers, switches, cables and connectors. Data storage shops contemplating a storage networking upgrade face a series of often-complex decisions involving factors such as incumbent technology, technical capabilities, future technology roadmaps, standards progress and cost. In this storage networking tutorial, we detail the equipment you need to upgrade to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and FCoE storage. We also provide pricing information, how the available products compare, the impact of the standards process on the technologies, and where to watch out for vendor lock-in.


8 Gbps Fibre Channel storage: Use arrays, switches and server for gradual move to 8 Gbps 
For IT shops interested in advancing their Fibre Channel storage networking gear to the next step in its evolution, the incumbent choice is 8 Gbps hardware -- but that move doesn't have to be a forklift upgrade. Indeed, a slow and steady transition is how most shops will likely make the upgrade, updating their servers, switches and/or disk arrays because the components can automatically negotiate down to the slowest speed of the equipment they're using. Learn how to prepare for an upgrade to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel storage and discover what it will cost.


10 Gigabit Ethernet for iSCSI storage, NAS storage still hinges on cost 
While 10 Gigabit Ethernet holds the promise of much speedier delivery of data to networked storage hardware than its predecessor, 10 GbE is still expensive enough to require a discussion around cost justification. In some cases, Gigabit Ethernet will still be fast enough to meet the needs of a company's block-based iSCSI storage or file-based NAS storage. Get the data you need to do the cost analysis, and find out about the architectural decisions associated with upgrading your cables and connectors, servers, switches and storage hardware to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.


End-to-end FCoE storage not quite ready 
While Fibre Channel over Ethernet promises to allow IT shops to run LAN and SAN traffic over a 10 Gigabit Ethernet converged network, the process of getting the data center outfitted for FCoE is neither simple nor fast. Plans for FCoE were announced in early 2007, yet end-to-end FCoE from server to storage still isn't a realistic option for most IT shops because multi-hop, switch-to-switch FCoE involving a core switch isn't ready for prime time. But FCoE prospects should start to improve toward the end of this year as key standards inch closer to finalization. If you're considering a move to FCoE storage, get the details on what your networking component options are and how much of a hit it will take on your budget.

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