Ethernet, the longtime standard for LAN traffic, is seeing another upgrade on the horizon, with 10 Gbps Ethernet beginning to explode onto the market. The speed upgrade will help Ethernet and Fibre Channel, the longtime standard for SAN traffic, converge onto one high speed network, linking servers in large farms to the storage arrays that store their data. Intel has just released “barely out of Alpha” code for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) for Linux, though only for a specific release and configuration.
Cisco has seen sales of 10 Gbps Ethernet ports triple since they entered the market in the second quarter of 2007. The strong sales indicate that there is still plenty of demand for increased bandwidth in the data center. The ability to send Fibre Channel packets over Ethernet will help to reduce the number of data centers that have to maintain two architectures — one for storage and another for servers.
Until recently, I didn’t think that I would have 10 Gbps Ethernet in my shop, because we are so small. However, if I can use Ethernet to access my NAS and iSCSI boxes rather than Fibre Channel, I can see us bypassing SAN technology altogether in favor of technology that fits in better with what we are doing already. Do you see 10 Gbps in your data center in the near future?