After ratification of the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standard this past June, this new storage networking technology is on a fast track for adoption. The standard has gone from proposal to approval in approximately two years, way quicker than average. Now, NetApp is the first vendor to be shipping native FCoE storage systems.

Although, a “test drive” event that was held in San Diego in June, 2009, demonstrated clear interoperability and sustained performance, NetApp is the first to make a native FCoE storage subsystem generally available. Note, however, that FalconStor offers a Virtual Tape Library (VTL) with FCoE. Participants in that study included CA, Cisco, DataDirect Networks, EMC, FalconStor, Finisar, HP, Infortrend, LSI, Microsoft, NetApp, Promise Technology, QLogic, and Symantec.

FCoE enables companies to retain an existing Fibre Channel infrastructure, keep existing Fibre Channel (FC) management tools in place, provide the same level of performance, reduce cable plant complexity and lower costs. It also coexists with iSCSI running on top of TCP/IP over the same Ethernet network giving users maximum flexibility.

Intensely virtualized environments make huge demands on I/O infrastructures, and FCoE running on 10-gigabit Ethernet was designed to meet these demands while coexisting with the huge installed base of Fibre channel SANs. The test drive event validated this capability and we can expect more native FCoE systems to be rolled out in the coming months.

NetApp is clearly positioning itself on the leading edge of storage networking technologies as it battles to take market share away from its bigger competitors.

Press Release:

NetApp Extends Leadership in Ethernet Storage with Expanded FCoE and DCB Infrastructure Solutions

Sunnyvale, Calif.—August 11, 2009 — NetApp® (NASDAQ: NTAP) today announced a convergence-ready end-to-end 10Gb Ethernet (10GbE) infrastructure based on the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standard. This infrastructure enhances enterprises’ ability to efficiently migrate to Ethernet and achieve capital and operational efficiencies.

NetApp, a pioneer in Ethernet storage, continues to advance the technology with leadership and innovation. Today, NetApp offers standards-based products that support converged Ethernet (FCoE, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS) data access and help customers streamline their data centers and maximize ROI. With partners such as Cisco and QLogic, NetApp is expanding Ethernet as a storage infrastructure, offering a next-generation unified target adapter for its storage systems, switches, and converged network adapters (CNAs). The move to converged data and storage networks has recently driven increased adoption of 10GbE in the data center; NetApp 10GbE target port shipments have more than doubled since June of 2008, from 3,000 to more than 7,500.

“We have been testing our new FCoE infrastructure over the last few months and have been impressed most by the performance,” said Howard Eddy, vice president of Information Technology at Subaru New England. “For instance, we are seeing over 75% greater performance on SQL versus our existing DAS solution. We’ve also been able to dramatically reduce our overall complexity for our storage and networking by streamlining down to a single network technology: Ethernet.”

With NetApp and its solutions partners, customers can build end-to-end FCoE infrastructures while still supporting existing Fibre Channel investments and take a phased approach to consolidating their data centers around Ethernet. Now customers can build out their Ethernet infrastructure over time and while protecting previous infrastructure investments. In addition to the unified target adapter for NetApp systems, NetApp now offers the new QLogic 8100 Series CNA, which offers customers greater choice and flexibility while building out their infrastructures. With this adapter, customers can run both FCoE and IP traffic through the same port and on the same wire, eliminating the need and expense for separate SAN and LAN adapters and cables.

“FCoE is changing the way customers can use Ethernet in their data centers,” said Amit Vashi, vice president of Marketing, Host Solutions Group, QLogic. “Together with NetApp, we’re adding value to FCoE by helping customers reduce data center complexity when running multiple protocols as they move to a unified Ethernet infrastructure.”

NetApp also offers Cisco Nexus 5000 Series switches, a leading family of high-performance, low-latency switches for data center networks supporting lossless 10GbE, Fibre Channel, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. The Cisco Nexus Series switches offer a highly cost-effective access-layer strategy for Gigabit Ethernet and mixed Gigabit and 10-Gigabit Ethernet server environments.

“FCoE is a logical extension of our unified storage architecture,” said Patrick Roger, vice president of Solutions Marketing at NetApp. “With our leadership in the space, we’re helping more customers than ever meet their business needs without undue cost and complexity and without sacrificing investments they’ve already made in more expensive Fibre Channel systems. With our partners like QLogic and Cisco, customers will have an ever-growing ecosystem of compliant, end-to-end solutions as the Ethernet growth trend continues.”

NetApp has been an active participant in the development and marketing of the Fibre Channel over Ethernet standard, which the FC-BB-5 working group of the T11 Technical Committee recently completed work on and unanimously approved as a final standard for FCoE, as well as the Data Center Bridging (DCB) standard within the IEEE.

“FCoE is out of its infancy and has emerged as a flexible and cost-effective technology for enterprise infrastructures,” said Dennis Martin, president of Demartek. “NetApp, with its network of partnerships, has a unique ability to provide end-to-end, native 10GbE unified solutions and is poised as a leader as this technology continues to grow in popularity and demand. I have tested the end-to-end NetApp® unified solution in the Demartek lab and seen it in action.”

The next-generation FCoE unified target adapter, Ethernet switch, and CNAs mentioned above are all available for order

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Nick Allen (8 Posts)

Nick is a veteran storage industry guru with more than 40 years' experience in information technology who now consults on best practices in information storage at The Tod Point Group which he founded. Previously, Nick spent 20 years with Gartner Inc. as Vice President and Research Director where he focused on information storage, storage networking and storage management. Prior to Gartner, he was a senior management consultant specializing in system planning, capacity and storage performance management. Previously, he worked in IT management, operating systems, and business and scientific applications. He also brings his storage expertise to bear at Wikibon.

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