Juniper Employee , Juniper Employee Juniper Employee
FCoE (FCF/FC-Switch Not Included)
Sep 12, 2012

If you are the parent of a child who loves toys and you also happen to be a data center specialist/architect considering FCoE in your next-generation data center network, this blog is for you…


Allow me to connect the dots.  For years, the toy industry has been perpetuating a great injustice against kids and parents alike: selling toys without batteries.  Every Christmas, my daughter opens her presents and wants to play with the new toys right away.  Unfortunately, the four AA batteries required are not included, and explaining why daddy doesn’t carry a ready supply of batteries is an art I have not mastered.


I see a similar problem with FCoE in the data center.  With the current state of FCoE (FC-BB-5), Fibre Channel services are still required from the FCF/FC Switch (FCF-Fibre Channel Forwarder).  Whether you have storage on the FC or Ethernet network, you will always need an FCF/FC Switch for the FC services.  Just like toys and batteries, implementing an FCoE solution requires an FCF/FC Switch.




At Juniper, we are very sensitive to customer needs, particularly in the area of data storage.  We believe in giving customers the choice to deploy their choice of storage without the network getting in the way. Whether it is direct-attached storage (DAS), network-attached storage (NAS), Fibre Channel (FC) or FC over Ethernet (FCoE), with the Juniper Networks QFX3500 Switch or QFabric architecture, it doesn’t matter.


Click here for more storage info on the QFabric/QFX3500



But what if the network didn’t need that FCF/FC Switch for FC services?  What if we could get those services from the server?  The next generation of FCoE (FC-BB-6) does just that, ensuring that the FCF/FC Switch is not needed in an FCoE deployment. 



FCoE FC-BB-6 No FCF/FC Switch Needed!


At the Intel Developer Forum Sept. 11-13, Juniper and Intel are showing a proof of concept demo of FCoE VN2VN (Virtual Node-to-Virtual Node).  In plain English, this means FCoE with no FCF/FC Switch required.




This demonstration begs a deeper question: why does FCoE need to be any different than any other service in the data center?  Is storage so special that it needs an FCF/FC Switch to resolve services and pass traffic?  Likewise, must IP services like e-mail, video and IP storage (NAS, DAS or iSCSI) go to an IP router in order to deliver their services?  The answer, of course, is no.  Can you imagine how expensive it would be to run all services and all traffic through a router?  In the IP world, services don’t need to be resolved from the router, nor does all traffic have to go through an IP router.  Instead, it can be resolved within the protocol or appliance that has initiated the service in the data center, and traffic can make use of Layer 2.


In the current model (FC-BB-5), the dirty little secret is that data traffic and control traffic must go to the FCF/FC Switch before it goes to the FCoE storage target.  This adds unneeded expense and complexity when deploying a storage solution in the data center.  VN2VN FCoE (FC-BB-6) brings storage one step closer to that model, making it more consistent with all other data center traffic types. 


The future, FCoE (FC-BB-6) storage services (FCF/FC switch not included) will remove the complexity and cost that FCoE and FC bring to the data center.  If the solution to my kid’s toy problem was that simple…