A network technology which encapsulates fiber channel frames inside an Ethernet frame is known as fiber channel over Ethernet. Fiber channel over Ethernet is basically a data storage protocol which enables communication over Ethernet. FCoE offers “high-speed Ethernet” infrastructure to move traffic and converge IP protocols and storage to a single interface. As defined by FC-BB-5T11 group, Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is an approach to “I/O consolidation”. Conventionally, for data storage, TCP/IP networks were used by organization. Fiber channel offers high-speed data connections between the servers and computing devices. Fiber channel over Ethernet network comprises of FC ports, adapters, cables, and FC switches, among other components. FCoE provides I/O consolidation over Ethernet and allows Ethernet and fiber channel to share an integrated, single structure. As a result, Fiber channel over Ethernet offers benefits including less cables, switch ports, and adapters, proper server virtualization and storage, and seamless integration with “FC SANs”. This also helps in minimizing network complexities in the data center.
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One of the major applications of FCoE is Storage Area Networks (SANs), as it results in use of fewer cables. FCoE protocols are used by large organizations for high density storage. FCoE protocol replaces the FC1 and FC0 layers of the fiber channel with Ethernet. Fiber channel over Ethernet (FCoE) transports the stored data using fiber channel protocol as compared to TCP/IP stack. This is achieved by mapping of fiber channel over “IEEE 802.3”, creating full duplex networks. Thus, Fiber channel over Ethernet allows data centers to have increased optimization in virtualization (server) combined with reduction in cooling requirements, and lesser number of interface cards and cables.
Fiber channel over Ethernet, infrastructure broadly comprises of three components, namely FCoE links, switches, and CNA (Converged Network Adapter). The CNA provides virtual functionalities of both FC HBA (Host Bus Adapters) and Ethernet NIC (Network Interface Cards). The Ethernet infrastructure used by FCoE infrastructure is same as compared to the TCP/IP network. FCoE switches act as an intermediary between SAN network and adapters which connect adapters to IP network (using IP ports) combined with SAN network (using FC ports). Currently, companies use both fiber channel (FC) for storage area network (SAN) and Ethernet for TCP/IP networks for specific purposes. Ethernet networks are deployed when small amount of information is transferred by the user over both global and local distances.
Rising demand from users for increased bandwidth, and flexibility to access same network across server are some of the key factors contributing towards the growth of FCoE market. However, delayed adoption of FCoE technology is hindering the market growth. The impact of which is marginalized by rapid adoption of FCoE infrastructure in cloud computing, which is creating foundation for new opportunities. The FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet) market is segmented on the basis of type. The classification includes FCoE adapters, and FCoE switches. Prominent players of the market include Cisco Systems Inc., Qlogic Corp., Brocade Communication Systems Inc., Emulex Corp., Intel Corp., LSI Corp., and Arista Networks Inc., among others. These players are focused on developing solutions which can meet varying requirements for different sectors. For instance, recently CISCO enhanced its customer base for FCoE solutions by including Financial and Technology solution companies, and Aerospace sector.