Is Fibre Channel the "Minivan" of Protocols?

Guest post by John Rozwadowski, Business Development Executive, Brocade Communications


I’m a car guy.  Yeah, I dream about screaming down the road with a Lamborghini – the V12 turning heads as I stare back with my mirrored sunglasses!  Alas, reality always gets in the way.  Lamborghinis are too expensive and totally unpractical, not to mention the fact that my thinning hair (or growing bald spot – whichever terminology you want to use) means I’d just get a sunburn on my head. What I do want to discuss, however, is Minivans – and how cool a minivan can really be. 


Wow, that feels like a cold shower, huh?? 


Minivans are arguably the most versatile vehicle on the road today. They don’t have the ‘Italian sports car look’ or the ‘sophisticated executive’ look, but are significantly more practical and efficient than any other car on the market.  They have tons of space and seating, get very good gas mileage, and are easy to get in and out of.  On top of that, the newer minivans have some killer features:  blind spot information systems, multi-angle rearview cameras, built in cooled “storage” box, heated/cooled seats,  and ridiculous stereo and DVD systems with wireless headphones (so you don’t have to listen to Barney singing for the umpteenth time…) 


All told, the minivan is not only an effective and efficient car – but also contains lots of interesting features which can almost make them - dare I say it - cool. 


In my opinion, the market perception of Fibre Channel is a lot like the market perception of minivans. On the surface, it seems like a lot of people want to replace Fibre Channel with some other “newer” or “cooler” technology.  And yet, when you take a little time to discuss their goals and requirements – we more often find that they are describing the attributes that Fibre Channel has delivered for years.


Brocade recently released our seventh generation of Fibre Channel ASICs and like the newest minivans, it’s not only practical and efficient, but also loaded with lots of cool features that architects and Network Admins find extremely useful. Our latest products not only have doubled the speed (16Gbps) but have also been optimized to work in a high density and bursty I/O environment, which is exactly the environment being driven by Virtualization and Cloud trends.  We’ve also added cool new features, like Virtualization optimization, and automatic diagnostics, which allows for greater visibility into cable or optics problems before they become network problems.  And our Partners and Customers continue to tell us that their Fibre Channel gear is extremely reliable (with some saying we are managing six-9s of reliability) and continues to be easy to use.


If Fibre Channel is a minivan, then it’s a “sleeper,” one with a V12 with a supercharger under the hood, heated seats, and lots of other cool features.  Brocade continues to innovate and develop Fibre Channel because, like the Minivan, it’s the ‘go-to’ product for our most important and mission critical items.  For network administrators, it’s their data.  For us moms and dads buying minivans, it’s our kids. 


And with Fibre Channel, you get that reliability and those cool features all in one.  It’s like having a minivan that drives like a Lamborghini – without the need to put sunblock on your head…


Why would you buy a minivan if you can buy a 4x4 SUV (ethernet) that does it all?

You can take your kids to school and drive around town with a minivan, but you can't go off-road with it (you can't use NAS with FC), also, supercharged V12s and minivans are well known for its low miles per gallon reputation (FC cost of ownership), a think a turbocharged V6 diesel 4x4 SUV is better (ethernet's lower cost of ownership) and can accomplish the same tasks and more than a minivan.

Sorry Ralfaro01zero, can't agree with you there.

Whilst I have never and will never own a minivan, they do have a much greater capacity than that of a 4x4, such as the 12 and 18 seater Mercs that you see all over Europe all sporting TDv6's and a whole lot of cow hide comfort, and though a 4x4 can potentially go over much more ground or to places where a minivan can't, 4x4's also have many drawbacks; much like ethernet - it carries a much heigher overhead, suffering from greater latency, has implications of security that FC doesn't, can be more complex, and doesn't have a particulaly different TCO from FC, (8GB FC HBA's and true 10GB ToE iSCSI nics cost about the same, switch ports cost about the same, and FC and Cat 6 about the same.), but then introduces the issues of dedicated Eth switching vs. VLANs on existing switches. Who owns the LAN switching? The storage guys or the network guys?

Both ethernet and FC have a place, but when it comes to your berries being on the block, most people would put their faith in FC.

But ultimately, FC is the Mercedes Minivan dollied up by AMG with the 522bhp 6.0 liter v12.

Aus Storage Guy