Kash Shaikh, group manager of data center switching with Cisco (www.cisco.com), says:

FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) provides the convergence of LAN and Fibre Channel storage traffic on a single lossless 10 Gigabit Ethernet link. This enables the network to provide the flexibility to either run FCoE, Fibre Channel (FC), IP-based storage such as NAS & iSCSI or combination of these technologies on a single converged network referred to as Unified Fabric.

FCoE is the logical step for converging LAN and Storage networks and has no downside. FCoE provides the investment protection, cost savings & simplify the network. FCoE enables SAN users to take advantage of the economy of scale, robust vendor community and roadmap of Ethernet while providing high-performance loss less characteristic of a Fibre Channel storage network, essentially providing best of both worlds.

FCoE eliminates server adapters, cables and access switch ports (CapEx savings), along with infrastructure simplification & reduced space, power, cooling (OpEx) resulting in savings that can extend the life of the data center. FCoE at server access layer also enhances server virtualization initiatives with the availability of standard server I/O, which supports the LAN and all forms of Ethernet-based storage networking, eliminating specialized networks from the data center.

The transition to FCoE at the server access layer:

The first step towards a Unified Fabric is deployment at from server Converged Network Adaptors to first hop switches such as ToR Nexus 5000 switch (or Cisco UCS 6100 & Nexus 2232), which customers can deploy now. Nexus 5000 then separates LAN/Ethernet traffic to Nexus 7000 upstream and SAN FC traffic to MDS upstream. This allows customers investment protection with existing storage MDS products.

Once the lossless 10 GbE to server is in place, customers can deploy Unified Fabric, which provides the flexibility to either run FCoE, FC, NAS or iSCSI or combination of these technologies. Organizations considering FCoE as a solution do not have to wait for FCoE storage or FCoE in core of data center ( or end-to-end FCoE)—they can roll out a lossless 10GbE infrastructure with FCoE between CNA & ToR switch such as Nexus 5000 and take advantage of most of the cost savings from fewer adaptors, cables, and switch ports etc

Hundreds of IT organizations are already leveraging the benefits of this incremental approach to FCoE by starting at the server access layer such as University of Arizona, Salem Hospital, Epiq Systems, Coca Cola, NetApp & many more.

Useful Links:

University Reduces Cost by 50% with FCoE
FCoE Switch Brand Leader Report