Cisco, NetApp, VMware Combine Forces on FCOE Storage System

UPDATED: A new data storage package consists of VMware-validated Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Switches and NetApp FAS series unified storage using Fibre Channel over Ethernet in virtual environments running vSphere.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet got another boost July 28 from three front-line IT companies.

Cisco Systems, NetApp and VMware jointly announced July 28 that they have made ready for prime time a new fully certified, end-to-end FCOE storage package for VMware virtual environments.

The package contains VMware-validated Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Switches and NetApp FAS-series unified storage using FCOE in virtual environments running VMware vSphere.

The package is now listed on the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide, with support offered by all three companies.

There's no question that FCOE is gaining momentum, as IT managers revamping enterprise data centers look to replace standard, cabled Fibre Channel. Earlier the week of July 26, Oracle launched its first FCOE Sun storage package with the help of controller maker QLogic.

Basically, Cisco's switches and NetApp's storage FCOE arrays now have been tested and credentialed by VMware to support VMware-based virtualized environments. Previously, the companies' wares had been certified for Fibre Channel, NAS (network-attached storage) and iSCSI.

By combining the attributes of Fibre Channel and Ethernet, FCOE presents a unified data center fabric and reduces the number of adapters, cables and network infrastructure devices-thus, much of the cost-involved in running a data center.

FCOE has become the de facto first choice of an increasing number of data center managers deploying 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which is fast becoming a key connectivity building block for new and updated unified data center infrastructures.

Because FCOE supports NAS and iSCSI on a single unified network with 10G Ethernet in virtualized environments, it allows data center infrastructure to be consolidated for capital and operational expense savings and more efficient management.

Cisco's UCS data center environment has been described as a closed-loop, proprietary system. Clarification on this is needed: The server (Cisco's own), networking software and management software is indeed proprietary; however, the UCS uses an open-standards approach for storage connectivity that works with any commodity-type hardware.

As original partners in the Cisco UCS alliance, EMC and NetApp are named as the "preferred" storage partners in the Cisco UCS partnership scheme, but in reality any storage supplier's wares can plug into the system.

"It's a common misconception, but UCS works with any and all storage vendors and can be managed by any overall management platform (IBM, HP, CA, BMC, etc.) and can interoperate in any existing data center," Cisco media rep Lee Davis told eWEEK.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify information about the UCS server and networking apparatus.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...