Bringing capabilities of Fibre Channel to Ethernet

by Sharon Lobo    Apr 17, 2013

Edgar Dias Brocade

In an exclusive interview to CXOtoday, Edgar Dias, Regional Director - India, Brocade, explains why we should not be writing off Fibre Channel as yet. And what makes Ethernet Fabric so special. Edited excerpts.

For quite some time there have been reports doing rounds announcing the death of the Fibre Channel (FC) as more data centers continue to adopt the Ethernet. However, Brocade seems to still be upbeat about FC. Why is it so?

I agree, a few years ago there were analysts who predicted that FC would give way to FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet), however these analyst ended eating humble pie. Today, FC has evolved from 8GFC to 16GFC, which is also known as the Gen 5. This Gen 5 FC is driven by two trends, the adoption of the solid state device (SSD) and virtualization. SSDs eliminated the speed limitations of hard drives, while virtualization required you to add additional storage capacity.

Also, we do not view FC in isolation. As the adoption of Ethernet increased we wanted to bring the capabilities of FC such as lossless, deterministic, fault tolerance, etc to the Ethernet. As a result, we created a new segment known as Ethernet fabric.

Could you tell us more about the Ethernet fabric? And what makes it so special?

Traditionally, Ethernet has always been hierarchal, it has always followed a spanning tree protocol. We wanted to bring the concept of the SAN, which is fabric, topology-less, and arbitrary to the Ethernet. This is where we developed the Ethernet fabric, which provides humongous benefits. For example, if you connect three regular switches, you will need to manually configure each switch separately. However, in an Ethernet fabric environment if you connect three switches together, they will detect that they are in a same fabric and will automatically configure each other.

Additionally, Ethernet fabric allows you to create various topologies such as star, mesh, cross, etc. We call this arbitrary topology network which only can be expected from FC.

Most businesses don’t mind spending on computing and storage resources. However, when it comes to adopting newer networking solutions everybody turns laggards. What has been your experience?

Exactly, healthcare for instance, has invested a lot in technologies such as MRI scanning, CT scan, devices utilized in the operation theatre etc. But when it comes to networking, they end up buying some cheap and dirty switch. However, worldwide the scenario is different, healthcare is shifting more towards devices which are based on IP (Internet Protocol), these include Stethoscope, distance diagnostic, remote patient monitoring, tele-medicine etc.

There have been some sectors in India that are gradually moving towards deploying advanced networking. For example, the education sector started providing WIFI enabled campus to their student and have now moved on to provide distance education through sophisticated technologies.

What verticals are you currently focusing on at the present in the Indian market?

At present our strategic focus is on the IT/ITES, Government, and the Media and Entertainment sectors. As we believe these are the verticals have a lot of customer spend and we have managed to get a fair amount of success in these markets.