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Comparing Enterprise Storage Networking Options: Brocade FC vs FCoE Lab Validation

Full Summary:

Fibre Channel technology remains the dominant choice for storage connectivity in a majority of enterprises.  This is due to its proven performance and manageability along with reliability and high availability features. Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is a recent alternative that enables the Fibre Channel (FC) protocol to run over a new generation of Ethernet, known as DCB Ethernet. As a result, DCB Ethernet can support converged SAN and LAN traffic.

The availability of converged server and storage networking has led some IT organizations to consider FCoE storage connectivity when upgrading their existing IT environment, or for new application deployments. Proponents of FCoE state their solutions are less complex and more cost effective due primarily to a reduction in cabling along with the use of lower cost host adapters.  Fibre Channel proponents claim better performance, higher reliability and easier administration at an equivalent cost.

Storage performance is the critical factor for many workloads including OLTP and many virtualized applications.  In order to improve these applications’ performance, it is essential to reduce the latency or delay for individual I/O requests.  As such, solid-state storage has become an increasingly popular method of improving application performance, but requires an equally high performance storage network.

Recently, Evaluator Group performed testing to evaluate Fibre Channel connectivity between blade servers and solid-state storage, compared to using FCoE connectivity; focusing on performance, ease of use and availability.  The testing was done to provide facts to help IT and storage administrators understand the impact of storage connectivity on applications as they adopt solid-state storage, particularly in virtual server environments.