There is a commonly held fallacy that FCoE provides a smooth migration path from your existing infrastructure to the new system. Its true that if you look narrowly enough at your infrastructure, then parts of your network don’t need upgrading. For example, your legacy FibreChannel switches, server cards and storage arrays don’t need replacing. The “Storage Stuff” gets to stay in place and ‘seamlessly interconnect’ with the new technology.
In the bigger picture, however, the impact of DCB on the Data Networking means that your entire Data Networking infrastructure needs to be overhauled and probably forklifted. And that’s exactly what Cisco wants you to do.
Although it’s possible to implement “patches of green” using the VCE model where a cluster of compute power is brownfield developed in your existing data centre, you are not going to realise the benefits of a DCB infrastructure without having an entire network that has the hardware that is capable of doing so. You need to deliver end-to-end service guarantees in the Data Centre and a network that doesn’t support the QoS and performance guarantees on every device, isn’t going to work.
In a very real way, the technology emphasis is going to shift away from the server / storage and into the network layer for the coming year or two.
The Storage/SCSI/FC over Ethernet is a great use case that is being used by the Networking industry to drive the first phase of migration to DCB and spark a massive round of investment into networking infrastructure. Cisco is heavily marketing DCB to encourage a new round of spending on the data network that is long overdue and Brocade is being forced to follow along behind it (and looks a lot like an also-ran in the process).
Time to look up, not down
It’s time for Storage Professional to stop looking at where you are placing your feet and look at the road ahead. The future of Storage Networking is not FibreChannel all the time but some other technology yet to arrive. FCoE is THE transition technology that heralds the fact that the Storage is now a maturing business and ready to actively integrate in the IT Team and not continue to be a silo in the corner with it’s own special needs.
But for the next couple of years, it looks like the network is going to take a lot of funding away from Storage as the upgrades begin.