Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet: Which is Better?

October 16 [Fri], 2015, 16:29

Currently, Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet are the two choices for storage networking solutions. But according to the market, the prospect for Fibre Channel is looking bule. Even the IT professionals that run these networks have suggested abandoning the choice of this storage networking technology and jumping into the Ethernet bandwagon. Although Ethernet can certainly make a case for net new installations, does it make sense for organizations to abandon their investment for Fibre Channel and turn to an entirely new Ethernet storage networking topology? And what reason that causes this situation?

Just as Fibre Channel at the speed of 4Gb/s is poised to make its move into the data center, Ethernet is roaring back with its 10Gb/s technology. But the lure of pure speed might not be enough for Ethernet to overtake Fibre Channel--at least for now. So here comes the question: for Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet, which is better?

Definition of Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet

But before you get to know the advantages and disadvantages of them, the thing you must know first is that what are they? Next each definition of them will be given in this paper.

Fibre Channel is a network standard that allows hosts or servers to communicate with storage devices. It was primarily used in supercomputers and then become a common connection type for storage area network (SAN) in enterprise storage. Gigabit Ethernet is a term to describe the technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second. It came into use beginning in 1999, gradually supplanting Fast Ethernet in wired local networks, where it performed considerably faster.

Comparison of Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet

The Performance Justification - Both Ethernet and Fibre Channel are constantly pushing their respective technologies to be faster and more consistent. At present, the most common speed of Fibre Channel is at either 8Gb/s or 16Gb/s. On the other hand, the speed of Ethernet is typically at 10Gb/s. Although there are nuances, in terms of the rate effectiveness, 8Gb/s is the same with 10Gb/s. As to Fibre Channel at the rate of 16Gb/s, it is superior to 10Gb/s Ethernet. According to this aspect, Fibre Channel is over Gigabit Ethernet.

The Price Justification - Fibre Channel is always used for data center class storage networking, while Ethernet hardware can come in a variety of forms that can service home offices all the way up to data centers. In general, we find that 8Gb/s Fibre Channel is less expensive than data center class 10Gb/s Ethernet; while 16Gb/s is at or near price parity.

The Simplicity Justification Complexity - The hardest part of this argument to pin down is the simplicity argument. It is generally assumed that Ethernet is easier to deal with. But is it really in this instance? First remember that 60% – 80% of data centers are running a Fibre Channel SAN already, so it is safe to assume that there are many IT professionals already familiar with managing it. Also, as you scale any storage architecture, more planning and thought has to be given to it. While neither becomes necessarily complex, at scale any architecture requires careful attention.

In a word, Both networking storage technologies have advantages and disadvantages. It is hard for us to choose one and abandon another. But there is a point that you should know that Fibre Channel has already embedded in 60%-80% of the market, and it is hard to justify a switch to Ethernet. Now, these two technologies can be applied in many applications, such as SFP. Fiberstore can offer both SFP types with good quality and reasonable price. For more information, please click at Fiberstore.


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