Newbie Guide to Fibre Channel over Ethernet

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ComputerWeekly, yesterday, posted a good article on the basics behind the Fibre Channel over Ethernet [FCoE] standard and technology.  When many of us think about the storage hardware associated with high performance computing gear, one generally imagines large disk farms sitting beside leadership class computers.  However, this is probably the ‘odd man out’ when it comes to HPC storage.  The “Average Joe” HPC user probably has their storage planted firmly around some sort of network file system technology.  So why would anyone want to migrate to FCoE?

The objective is to converge networks,” [Joe Mathis of Virtual Instruments] says. “It is about simplifying the multiple networks in today’s datacentres. You have your SAN network, which is likely to be on Fibre Channel, separate LAN networks, and possibly even a separate high-performance computing network, each with their own physical networks, management platforms and isolated cabling systems.”

So the idea is to consolidate one’s infrastructure.  If you dive in and spend the money for a high performance network technology, such as Infiniband, the opportunity exists to use it for traffic other than MPI communication.  The article goes on to lay out a few small technical details around FCoE and several of the early adopter vendors.  If you’re interested in the technology and would like to learn more, read the full article here.