Over at Cisco, there is a post from April, 2008 on the FCoE vs. IB argument that was written by Dante Malagrino. What follows is MY perspective (not my employers) on the FCoE vs. IB argument that he puts forth.
a.) Historically, both IB and FC have been more difficult to manage than competing IP-based solutions (though I’d argue that IQDNs are as much of a pain as node addresses and WWNs). With the advent of truly GUI driven switching solutions, a LOT of the legwork required has been reduced both for FC and for IB. Matter of fact, a true novice to both protocols can get a solution set up and running with a hour or two (cabling and hardware setup included).
b.) FCoE does much to assuage some of the performance concerns associated with current generation GigE-based iSCSI by including 10GbE into the equation and quashing latency issues that were terrible with GigE. However, it STILL pales in comparison to IB from a latency and bandwidth perspective. Couple the added cost (and hardware changes required), I see more of a case for using converged switches like Voltaire, Xsigo or Qlogic IB-to-FC solutions for companies that are currently using IB for node-to-node clustering. If they’re refreshing their NOC, then FCoE makes some level of sense but you’re still going to have to provide legacy support (albeit limited to 8 total FC ports to legacy attach). Then there’s the added overhead of managing 3 separate fabrics: FCoE from host to Nexus, FC to legacy MDS units, 10GbE to (hopefully) Catalyst 6500 series frame for IP. ouch! Couple that with the absolutely abysmal power req’s per CNA (24w for 1st gen) and incremental cost. You buy now, you’re going to be wanting to move to Gen2 pretty quickly.
c.) regarding the bandwidth vs. latency argument. Sure IB can work both ways. IPoIB proves that inherently and companies like Xsigo, Voltaire, and Qlogic have proven that you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to fabric conversion. SDR/DDR/QDR Infiniband has its place in HPC, to be sure, but moving it out from there, you can realize less CapEX/OpEX from using HCAs and these converged routers than overhauling to FCoE and CNAs.
anyhow, those are my thoughts. 😉 What do YOU think about this type of positioning?
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