Will Fibre Channel Generation Six update dominate iSCSI in SAN world?

Fibre Channel, which still dominates over a majority of Storage Area Networks is all set to cater with double speeds. And all the credit goes to to the incoming new technological update ‘Generation Six’. FC networks have long been a standard for SANs, with over 57% of the SAN market storage capacity shipped in 2012-2013 and the rest is been dominated by iSCSI and small portion by FCoE. SAN provides storage for servers in a network and can improve system management.

Strengthening this field in Feb 2014, the Fibre Channel Industry Association announced the availability of Fibre Channel generation six which brings in a suite of new features along with doubled speed capabilities to the protocol. By the year 2016, SAN industry will witness generation six solutions integrated into the legacy of FC networks.

As per the latest update available from FCIA, generation six will facilitate single-lane rates of 32 gigabits per second and 128 gigabits per second over four simultaneous lanes. In addition to it, this new protocol update will also provide more reliability with forward error correction, and other features which offer energy efficiency, simplify server virtualization, and enhance existing security standards.

The highlighting benefit of this new update is that FC is backward compatible for at least two generations. If an IT admin just purchases a generation six adapter or a generation six switch when they are into the market, then he can just introduce those into the current SAN infrastructures and get the new speeds with a single cable plugging into either one of those components.

But despite FCs dominance in majority of high end data centers, the protocol has less penetration in SMB environments. Here’s where iSCSI is meeting all the standards of a small outfits storage networking needs at a fraction of a cost. This is due to the fact that iSCSI uses infrastructure that most businesses already have i.e. Ethernet network and can be built and used at basic costs. FC is now generally being used by large networks and the new update to the protocol will therefore apply to those datacenters which need high end data transaction needs. Meanwhile, iSCSI SANs will cater to the needs of small and medium scale businesses which need highly available storage, but at economical costs.

As of now, it will be too early to predict on whether FC protocol update will dominate iSCSI existence in SAN business. But most of the industry veterans connected to storage world like Mo Tahmasebi, CEO of StoneFly, Inc. deny this prediction and insist that cost factor will surely influence this hype to a major extent and for sure iSCSI will emerge as a winner in this technological race.

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