Ethernet and fibre Channel are mature standards that have evolved over time thanks to substantial long-term investments, and both—along with Infiniband—have significant market share in the data center. However, due to the drive for larger, more efficient data centers, each of these technologies has faced significant scaling challenges. The development of extensions to these standards—in particular data Center Bridging (dCB) and fibre Channel over Ethernet (fCoE)—have for some time
been promoted as a way of providing the necessary capabilities for true network convergence.
In 2011, customers will finally be able to invest in convergence enabling equipment and begin reaping the benefits of convergence in their data centers. With the first wave of standards now complete—both the IEEE dCB enhancements to Ethernet and the INCITs T11 fC-BB-5 standard for fCoE—enterprises can benefit from server- and access-layer I/O convergence while continuing to leverage their investments in existing aggregation, core lAN, and fibre Channel backbones. Also in 2011, products will emerge that not only provide 10-gigabit Ethernet (10gbE) but also 40gbE at the edge. These will
be accompanied by fabric technologies to provide the necessary bandwidth for connecting the edges into a network that is optimized not just at rack scale but for larger regions of the data center. The price premium for 10gbE is slowly dropping, with lower cost converged network adapters and lower cost optics that allow data centers to reap the benefits of lower capital and operational expenses, thanks to convergence.
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