I/O Consolidation in the Data Center (Networking Technology Series)


Using Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and related technologies, data centers can consolidate data traffic onto a single network switch, simplifying their environments, promoting virtualization, and substantially reducing power and cooling costs. This emerging technology is drawing immense excitement, but few enterprise IT decision-makers and implementers truly understand it. I/O Consolidation in the Data Center is the only complete, up-to-date guide to FCoE. FCoE innovators Silvano Gai and Claudio DeSanti ...

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I/O Consolidation in the Data Center

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Using Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and related technologies, data centers can consolidate data traffic onto a single network switch, simplifying their environments, promoting virtualization, and substantially reducing power and cooling costs. This emerging technology is drawing immense excitement, but few enterprise IT decision-makers and implementers truly understand it. I/O Consolidation in the Data Center is the only complete, up-to-date guide to FCoE. FCoE innovators Silvano Gai and Claudio DeSanti (chair of the T11 FCoE standards working group) systematically explain the technology: its benefits, tradeoffs, and what it will take to implement it successfully in production environments. Unlike most other discussions of FCoE, this book fully reflects the final, recently-approved industry standard. The authors also present five detailed case studies illustrating typical FCoE adoption scenarios, as well as an extensive Q and A section addressing the issues enterprise IT professionals raise most often. This is a fully updated version of Silvano Gai's privately- published book on FCoE, written for leading FCoE pioneer Nuova Systems before the company was acquired by Cisco. Nearly 12,000 copies of that book have already been distributed, demonstrating the immense interest in FCoE technology, and the scarcity of reliable information that has existed about it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587058882
  • Publisher: Cisco Press
  • Publication date: 9/25/2009
  • Series: Networking Technology Series
  • Pages: 153
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Silvano Gai, who grew up in a small village near Asti, Italy, has more than 27 years of experience

in computer engineering and computer networks. He is the author of several books and technical

publications on computer networking and multiple Internet Drafts and RFCs. He is responsible

for 30 issued patents and 50 patent applications. His background includes 7 years as a full

professor of computer engineering, tenure track, at Politecnico di Torino, Italy, and seven years

as a researcher at the CNR (Italian National Council for Scientifi c Research). For the past 12

years, he has been in Silicon Valley where, in the position of Cisco Fellow, he was an architect

of the Cisco Catalyst family of network switches, of the Cisco MDS family of storage networking

switches, and of the Nexus family of data center switches. Silvano teaches a course on I/O

Consolidation, Data Center Ethernet, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet at Stanford University

(see http://scpd.stanford.edu/certifi cates/fcoe).

Claudio DeSanti is a Distinguished Engineer in the Advanced Architectures & Research organization

at Cisco. He represents Cisco in several National and International Standards Bodies,

such as INCITS Technical Committee T11, IEEE 802.1, IETF, and in industry associations. He

is vice chairman of the INCITS T11 Technical Committee, chairperson of various working

groups, including FC-BB-5, where FCoE has been developed, and technical editor of different

standards, including IEEE 802.1Qbb, where Priority-based Flow Control is defi ned. He is

author of several patents and international publications, including ten RFCs in IETF and other

standards in the American National Standard Institute. He received many honors and awards,

including the INCITS 2008 Technical Excellence Award, the INCITS 2007 Team Award, and the

INCITS 2006 Gene Milligan Award for Effective Committee Management. Claudio’s research

interests include network protocols, storage networking, routing, and security. He holds a Ph.D.

in computer engineering from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy.

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Table of Contents

I/O Consolidation 1

Introduction 1

What Is I/O Consolidation 2

Merging the Requirements 3

Why I/O Consolidation Has Not Yet Been Successful 4

Fundamental Technologies 5

PCI-Express 5

10 Gigabit Ethernet 5

Additional Requirements 8

Buffering Requirements 8

Layer 2 Only 9

Switch Architecture 9

Low Latency 10

Native Support for Storage Traffi c 11

RDMA Support 11

Enabling Technologies 15

Introduction 15

Lossless Ethernet 15


Credits Versus PAUSE 17

PAUSE Propagation 18

Is Lossless Better? 19

Why PAUSE Is Not Widely Deployed 20

Priority-based Flow Control (PFC) 20

Additional Components 22

DCBX: Data Center Bridging eXchange 22

Bandwidth Management 23

Congestion Management 25

Delayed Drop 26

Going Beyond Spanning Tree 28

Active-Active Connectivity 32

Etherchannel 32

Virtual Switching System (VSS) 32

virtual Port Channel (vPC) 34

Ethernet Host Virtualizer 36

Layer 2 Multipath (L2MP) 38

Basic Mechanisms in L2MP 40

Cisco DBridges 47

IETF RBridges and the TRILL Project 51

VEB: Virtual Ethernet Bridging 52

Server Virtualization 53


The IEEE Standard Effort 54

VEB in the Adapter 55

VEB in the Switch 56

VNTag 57

Fabric Extenders 59

VN-Link 60

Questions and Answers 63

Does FCoE Uses Credits? 63

High Availability of PAUSE and Credits 63

Queue Size 63

Long-Haul 63


Confi guration 64

Bandwidth Prioritization 64

Storage Bandwidth 64

Cisco DCB/FCoE Support 65

10GE NICs 65

IP Routing 65

Lossless Ethernet Versus Infi niband 66

Nomenclature 66

Fibre Channel over Ethernet 67

Introduction 67

Fibre Channel 69

Fibre Channel Architectural Models 71

FCoE Mapping 73

FCoE Architectural Models 74

FCoE Benefi ts 79

FCoE Data Plane 80

FCoE Topologies 82

FCoE Addressing 85

FCoE Forwarding 87

FPMAs and SPMAs 90

FIP: FCoE Initialization Protocol 92

FIP Messages 93

FIP VLAN Discovery 97

FIP Discovery 98

FIP Virtual Link Instantiation 103

FIP Virtual Link Maintenance 108

Converged Network Adapters 110

FCoE Open Software 112

Network Tools 113

FCoE and Virtualization 114

Fibre Channel Block I/O 115

iSCSI Block I/O 116

Moving a VM 117

FCoE and Block I/O 117

FCoE FAQ 118

Is FCoE Routable? 118

iSCSI Versus FCoE? 120

Does FCoE Require Gateways? 123

Case Studies 125

Introduction 125

I/O Consolidation with Discrete Servers 126

Top-of-Rack Consolidated I/O 129

Example with Blade Servers 131

Updating the Distribution Layer 133

Unifi ed Computing System 136

Bibliography 139

PCI Express 139

IEEE 802.3 139

IEEE 802.1 139

Ethernet Improvements 139

Fibre Channel 139

FCoE 140


Virtualization 140

Glossary 141

Figures 145

Tables 149

Index 151

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    detailed explanation

    The consolidation referred to by the book takes place inside a data center, where crucial assumptions can be made about short cabling lengths and the existence of reliable hardware, ie. very low bit rate losses over the distances inside the center. The authors describe briefly existing network choices, like iSCSI and Infiniband. What they advocate is Fibre Channel over Ethernet [FCoE]. This allows for a unified network inside the center, and concomitant savings in hardware and system maintenance.

    Much of the book is taken up with explaining FCoE, like its architectural models. The details can get somewhat involved, even though the book deliberately omits some information. A major simplifying concept to understand is that FCoE uses encapsulation of a FC payload. With no fragmenting, there is thus no need for reassembly and all that this implies in complexity. [By close analogy, think of what TCP has to do when it reassembles packets.] Which also speeds up FCoE processing, aiding low latency demands.

    The most intricate descriptions seem to be about combining FCoE with virtualisation. The latter is now a hot topic within data centers, and making this work with FCoE is nontrivial.

    The book does not claim that FCoE will entirely supplant existing alternatives like iSCSI, but suggests that these might be pushed out to non-data center usages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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