The Death of Fibre Channel

By Henry Newman

There were a few tweets about my last comments regarding the death of fibre channel that I would like to respond to. Scott Shimomura ‏called me “clueless” and said I was anti-SAN. Well, to those individuals who agree with those comments: Let’s debate a few of the issues. Let’s start with facts:

1. Fibre channel sales have been dropping for a number of years and SAS sales are increasing.

2. Fibre channel’s biggest volume was when all enterprise disk drives had FC interfaces.

3. Scalable file systems today – whether they be NAS or parallel file systems – are connected via ethernet for the most part, with the latest being SAS backends.

I was a SAN guy in the 1990s and early 2000s. And in fact I tested some of the original Jaycor fibre channel cards (the company became JNI) on early MaxStrat Gen-5 (was purchased by Sun back in 1999) hardware with fibre channel interfaces back in 1996, if my memory serves me.

Back then we needed file systems that could take advantage of SAN performance and I worked with a number of file systems, helping them improve in performance to take advantage of this new technology.

Folks, nothing last forever: technologies come and go. I am not anti-SAN, anti-Fibre channel or anti-anything except maybe bad technology. The way I see it we have performance requirements that require scaling beyond what fibre channel can do. We have cost requirements that required this scaling to be cheaper than fibre channel. And we have fewer and fewer people that know about fibre channel technology.

So for you SAN people out there, tell me about an installation of a single namespace file system that has 10 PB in the namespace using a fibre channel SAN. I know of one and they struggle it, but I would like to hear about others. I know 100s using appliances.

To respond to me, please post in the Comments section below.

This article was originally published on July 19, 2013