HP on FCoE and Convergence

Last week HP unveiled its BladeSystem Matrix, an integrated data center infrastructure offering that will compete with Cisco’s Unified Computing System. But what about Cisco’s focus on a unified fabric connecting the LAN and storage networks using Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and lossless Ethernet?

We recently had a conversation with Jieming Zhu, distinguished technologist at HP StorageWorks, about HP’s view of FCoE and the adoption of converged network technologies. Here are some of Zhu’s comments from that discussion:

On HP’s roadmap: “(HP Chairman and CEO) Mark Hurd has clearly indicated his resolve that we’ll play even bigger in the networking space. We think FCoE fits well into our adaptive infrastructure vision. HP is in a very good position to bring benefits to customers and ease the migration pain. ProCurve (Networking) is the hidden jewel that HP never exposed that much. It’s number two in the enterprise LAN market. We’ve revamped the whole line to play more strongly in the data center networking market. Down the road, ProCurve will play a much bigger role.”

On the potential of FCoE: “It is quite significant technology. FCoE will eventually deliver compelling value for data center customers. It can cut quite a bit of power used for input-output connectivity. Another benefit we see is consolidation. The boundary between servers and networks and storage will disappear, and the true vision of virtualization and dynamic provisioning will become a reality.”

On convergence and corporate culture: “With the convergent network we’re going to face a converged management team. Technology issues are always easier to solve than management issues and political issues. This FCoE technology has the potential to trigger this type of turmoil. Who’ll be making decisions? It depends who you ask. With the networking guys and storage guys, you may get a very different answer than from the server guys. It really hasn’t been settled.”

On the pace of adoption: “FCoE is becoming a standard. That doesn’t prevent vendors from making products pre-standard. The overall adoption pace is anybody’s guess. This is not trivial at all. We’re going to implement a new tunneling protocol. In the early days of Fibre Channel it took many years of work by many vendors (to be broadly adopted). Like any new data center technology, it will take years to mature and go mainstream, especially in this economy. People will be leery of adopting new technology in this environment.”

For additional perspectives from HP on FCoE, see these articles:

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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