When and why you should roll out 10Gbit Ethernet

10 Gigabit Ethernet hardware will reach "commodity" price levels in about 3 years.

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Taufik Ma, vice president of marketing for intelligent network products at Emulex Corp., a storage connectivity vendor in Costa Mesa, Calif., says most iSCSI adopters tend to be those who have not yet invested in Fibre Channel. While some claim 10 Gigabit Ethernet is best suited for customers with no Fibre Channel investment to protect, others see it co-existing with or even replacing Fibre Channel.

10 Gigabit Ethernet Tips

Some end users have "dipped a toe in the iSCSI market using a router in their FC director," says Garrett. "This enables them to leverage what they have in the FC SAN and connect it to Tier 2 apps, test and development servers, and servers outside the reach of the Fibre Channel infrastructure."

Patrick Cimprich, chief architect of infrastructure and security solutions at Avanade Inc., an IT consultancy in Seattle, advises users to manage Ethernet storage networks as carefully as a Fibre Channel network. That includes segregating storage traffic from data or voice traffic and maintaining the strictest change control over servers and switches at the core of the network where bandwidth demands are highest.

Others advise carefully choosing the type of drives to deploy. Although desktop-class serial ATA (SATA) drives have "extremely attractive pricing, the throughput and IOPS of enterprise-class SATA drives are about 25% higher," says Kramer. And while the performance of SATA drives may come close to that of Fibre Channel drives in sheer throughput and reliability, Fibre Channel drives are still better at handling "random access and on servicing multiple parallel requests," says Cimprich.

Even if one staff manages both data and storage networks, organizations will still need a dedicated storage administration staff to create and manage storage volumes, LUNs, snapshotting and volume copies, says Hart. The network manager will handle jobs such as creating virtual LANs for storage traffic and ensuring that there is enough bandwidth for storage, he says.

Eventual Triumph?

"Over the last 12 months, we've seen a shift from companies who say, 'I've got Fibre Channel, and I'm going to stick with Fibre Channel' to companies saying, 'Wow, this is a pretty compelling story for iSCSI and we are considering mixed iSCSI/Fibre Channel environments,'" says Cimprich.

Whether its victory is complete or only partial, it seems inevitable that 10 Gigabit Ethernet is here to stay in storage networks.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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