15.0 Fibre Channel Storage over Ethernet Networks: FCoE

Many enterprise data centers rely on Ethernet for their LAN and data traffic, and on Fibre Channel networks for their storage infrastructure. Open Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) Initiator software allows servers with Ethernet adapters to connect to a Fibre Channel storage subsystem over an Ethernet network. This connectivity was previously reserved exclusively for systems with Fibre Channel adapters over a Fibre Channel fabric. The FCoE technology reduces complexity in the data center by aiding network convergence. This helps to preserve your existing investments in a Fibre Channel storage infrastructure and to simplify network management.

Figure 15-1 Open Fibre Channel over Ethernet SAN

Open-FCoE allows you to run the Fibre Channel protocols on the host, instead of on proprietary hardware on the host bus adapter. It is targeted for 10 Gbps (gigabit per second) Ethernet adapters, but can work on any Ethernet adapter that supports pause frames. The initiator software provides a Fibre Channel protocol processing module and an Ethernet-based transport module. The Open-FCoE module acts as a low-level driver for SCSI. The Open-FCoE transport uses net_device to send and receive packets. Data Center Bridging (DCB) drivers provide the quality of service for FCoE.

FCoE is an encapsulation protocol that moves the Fibre Channel protocol traffic over Ethernet connections without changing the Fibre Channel frame. This allows your network security and traffic management infrastructure to work the same with FCoE as it does with Fibre Channel.

You might choose to deploy FCoE in your enterprise if the following conditions exist:

  • Your enterprise already has a Fibre Channel storage subsystem and administrators with Fibre Channel skills and knowledge.

  • You are deploying 10 Gbps Ethernet in the network.

This section describes how to set up FCoE in your network.