Deirdre Wassell, director of solutions marketing at EMC Corporation (, says:

FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) is a storage networking protocol that supports Fibre Channel natively over Ethernet. FCoE allows Fibre Channel frames to run alongside traditional Internet Protocol (IP) traffic, because it encapsulates the frames into Ethernet frames.

With Fibre Channel over Ethernet, Fibre Channel becomes another network protocol running on Ethernet, alongside traditional IP traffic. This means Fibre Channel over Ethernet runs alongside IP traffic on Ethernet, unlike iSCSI which runs on top of IP using TCP. Fibre Channel over Ethernet is designed for any Ethernet speed, but another protocol, called CEE (Converged Enhanced Ethernet) which is also known as “DCB (Data Center Bridging)”, is required for performance and reliability. The CEE standard makes Ethernet as reliable for storage traffic as Fibre Channel because it creates an Ethernet that drops frames as rarely as Fibre Channel.

Today, the greatest benefit of FCoE is server I/O consolidation. Adding a Fibre Channel over Ethernet switch reduces the number of required server adapters and cables which saves from money from a CapEx and OpEx perspective. With a Fibre Channel deployment, servers need multiple HBAs and NICs to connect into the Fibre Channel SAN and the LAN. NICs and HBAs require unique cables. With FCoE, servers can deploy Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) using an Ethernet cable. Costs savings include server adapters, cables, and power and cooling. Many storage vendors already have native support for FCoE.

Over time, in the data center, FCoE will replace Fibre Channel. The transition will take many, many years, but, the good thing about FCoE is that it can be introduced into an existing Fibre Channel environment.

FCoE requires a 10GE environment. With that in place, Data Center POST readers can deploy new servers with FCoE switches with Fibre Channel storage or native FCoE storage today.