Network and storage protocol options: Choose wisely

There are a plethora of network and storage protocols available today, each with their own benefits. IT pro Rick Vanover explains that these are important decisions today and also in the future.

Too many times, I start theoretical discussions on whether the IT topic at hand is a new build or an upgrade to an existing infrastructure. The new build option seems to be painless, right? There are no barriers, no pre-existing infrastructure limitations, and no bad decisions by administrators before us.

The reality is that making decisions on new infrastructure builds is quite difficult, actually. There are a number of network and storage protocols to choose from today. This is of course aside from the network and storage product selection process. When it comes to the network and storage protocol topic, one area that stands out as a big sticking point is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). There are a number of ongoing discussions on how the FCoE standards do and do not matter. I would edge on the side of them not mattering in terms of one vendor selection for storage networking equipment usually is the operating norm. But we must also step back and remember that FCoE is keeping a technology that isn’t really that good and moving it forward to our fastest storage network capabilities. Social promotion, if you will.

The central point is that there are a lot of options for storage networking today. I’d choose something that would leverage a standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet instead of a solution that would adapt fibre channel to a new media type. In the 10 Gigabit options, I’d select iSCSI for most situations with the occasional NFS use case. Also in the 10 Gigabit arena, ATA-over-Etherenet (AoE) can be a compelling storage solution without the traditionally high costs of a fibre channel SAN.

Using a standard 10 Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure appeals to me as server networking can also be addressed by the same type of infrastructure. This also can integrate with traditional Gigabit Ethernet environments easier than other solutions.

Of course, playing armchair architect revolves around getting requirements in line and identifying what type of money can be spent for the network and storage architecture.

How do you approach all of the network and storage protocol options for today’s new infrastructure builds? Share your comments below.