Well, the “cut right to the chase” answer is more Ethernet.
I’m pretty satisfied looking back on my public record on this that I’ve been consistent. Started here. Then here. Then here. Of course, the “Multivendor” iSCSI and NFS posts. Ethernet will be the storage standard in almost all use cases. Just a matter of time.
I’m also happy to see that EMC’s is living up to the commitment that I put out there publicly here when we launched Ultraflex. That commitment then was that we were making I/O choice fluid, dynamic and modular – such that as new technologies arrive, as pricepoints hit sweet spots, and as standards make interop mature – our customers can non-disruptively add them to their existing arrays.
Customers who bought EMC gear with 4Gb FC could add 1GbE iSCSI at launch. Today they can add 8Gb FC, and 10GbE iSCSI and 10GbE NAS connectivity non-disruptively. This means all the thousands and thousands of customers can simply add the new protocols – no forklift, no downtime. Ultraflex modules are customer-installable. Commitment made, commitment delivered.
I think that that’s the sort of thing customers look for in vendors that want to be partners.
So – what’s next? Well, obviously FCoE. FCoE is still in it’s formative stages. Certain parts are mature, others are still coming along. Stu Miniman does great coverage of the current state of the union here. It is however mature enough to start using today – just use it first where it’s mature (host to switch). So what about end-to-end models?
We do think that FCoE is important to our customers – and know that they want it end-to-end. Like I’ve stated in the past – FCoE isn’t about “extending FC”, or “better/worse than iSCSI/NAS”. It’s not about “either/or” – it’s about “AND”. It’s about getting rid of any reason not to converge the networks. An FCoE adapter is more accurately described as a NIC that also does FCoE.
To that end, we’ve been working furiously on the standards body, in interop. We’re actively selling and supporting Cisco and Brocade’s FCoE/FC switches.
We intentionally didn’t put Gen1 ASICs in our array targets (even though we uniquely could have upgraded by just hotswaping to Gen2 Ultraflex modules). That would not have been customer-centric thinking – as it was just not ready. The Gen2 CNAs are now available in volume.
NOTE: for those of you adopting now on vSphere with Gen2 CNAs from Emulex and Qlogic – I have had a pop in the number of questions about Gen 2 CNAs on the EMC support matrix and the VMware HCL. They will be on the EMC October ESM update. Re: the VMware HCL, the interface vendors go through a IOVP certification harness with VMware, and the harness for vSphere and FCoE CNAs isn’t done. It’s a VERY high priority and is firm for Q4 (and will likely be soon).
So – what about end-to-end designs including the array target? Well – in the same way that at the CX4 launch, I posted a picture of the 10GbE and 8Gb UltraFlex engineering prototypes in the basement of my house (a weird thing perhaps, but highlights that it’s real and we’re not just talking smack), here is Ultraflex FCoE card.
There’s still work to be done – in engineering, in interop, in the standards (see Stu’s post). But….
Commitment made. No marketing-centric efforts here. Move forward with FCoE with confidence in your hosts and in your aggregation switches, and start making FCoE part of your plans. You will be able to use it with your EMC infrastructure. You can count on us to deliver array targets when the time is right.