The current state of FCoE

Nigel Poulton has been posting some good articles about FCoE on It’s good to see a good discussion taking place, many people still don’t understand the basics, so it’s good to repeat and if you look at the details hopefully people will understand that FCoE shows great promise, with the caveat that we are still very early in the maturation of the technology.

A brief update on FCoE related standards

T11 FC-BB-5 has been ratified by T11 (so it is “done” although it still goes through some processing which is typically a “rubber stamp).

T11 FC-BB-6 is starting up and while the charter and timeline are not finalized, it will be discussing how to create larger FCoE configurations (allowing for creation of a “CEE Cloud”).

IEEE Data Center Bridging: the link level components (Priority Flow Control, Enhanced Transmission Selection and Data Center Bridging Exchange Protocol) are defined and should be ratified soon.  Congestion Notification is a 2010 target.  Layer 2 multipathing will be handled by the IETF TRILL standard which is defined, but not yet in products.

For more on the standards, see the presentations and papers below.

Product configuration today

EMC is supporting FCoE switches from Cisco and Brocade; Converged Network Adapters (CNA) from Emulex, QLogic and Brocade; OSes supported are Windows, Linux and VMware [as always, see the E-Lab Navigator for the latest]

Today, the configuration is from a CNA to FCoE switch (must have a switch, no support according to FC-BB-5 for server to storage w/o a switch; if you need this, use iSCSI) and from the switch you can then plug into the existing LAN and SAN.  Storage can either be plugged into the configuration via the SAN (through existing FC switches) or directly into the FCoE switch (today via FC or via FCoE when available).  Note that configurations of having FCoE traffic go through multiple FCoE (Ethernet) switches will require the updates which are being worked on in FC-BB-6 (although a small expansion of configurations specifically with blade servers should be able to be supported soon).  FCoE today is a consolidation at the server and access layer – full end-to-end solutions with larger aggregation will take time.

I have worked on a lot of FCoE collateral over the last year and thought it would be useful to create a list for reference:


Intro to FCoE w/ EMC – basic 101 of the technology

Deploying FCoE w/ EMC – the new equipment that you’ll need including cables, adapters and switches

FCoE Ecosystem – see FCoE Ecosystem post for more details

FCoE discussions w/ Kash Sheik of Cisco on the Storage ( and Network ( implications of fcoe


My EMC World 2009 presentation: Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI and the Converged Data Center –

Innovation Network Lecture – Journey Towards the Converged Data Center (archived webinar)


Introduction to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) (Updated Nov ’09)

Fibre Channel over Ethernet Techbook [from EMC E-Lab]

3 Responses to The current state of FCoE

  1. A fantastic wrap-up and summary, Stu. Thanks for taking the time to compile this.

  2. […] < For a full list of EMC FCoE resources, see my previous post The current state of FCoE. […]

  3. J Michel Metz says:

    Great job, Stu. The reference materials are stellar.

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