FCIP, IFCP, iSCSI in IP Storage

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 FCIP, IFCP, iSCSI in IP Storage

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The emerging FCIP protocol standard takes advantage of the installed base of Fibre Channel SANs, as shown in Figure 3, and the need to interconnect these SANs to support mission-critical environments. SANs provide the high performance and reliability required to support business continuance and disaster tolerance environments, including remote backup/archiving, high availability, remote mirroring, and centralized management.

Figure 3: FCIP enables multiple local Fibre Channel SANs to be interconnected, or remote SANs to be managed, over an IP network backbone.

For most of these applications, Fibre Channel SANs can be interconnected to meet the needs for remote storage access. However, by combining IP networking with SAN technology, you can extend the interconnectivity of SANs across much longer distances. FCIP provides the transport for traffic going between specific Fibre Channel SANs over LANs, MANs, and WANs. Like iSCSI, the FCIP protocol is also being developed within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) IP Storage Working Group and is expected to be completed by mid-year.

How FCIP works FCIP solutions encapsulate Fibre Channel packets and transport them via TCP/IP, which enables applications that were developed to run over Fibre Channel SANs to be supported under FCIP. It also enables organizations to leverage their current IP infrastructure and management resources to interconnect and extend Fibre Channel SANs.

FCIP is a tunneling protocol that uses TCP/IP as the transport while keeping Fibre Channel services intact. FCIP relies on IP-based network services and on TCP/IP for congestion control and management. It also relies on both TCP/IP and Fibre Channel for data-error and data-loss recovery.

In FCIP, gateways are used to interconnect Fibre Channel SANs to the IP network and to set up connections between SANs, or between Fibre Channel devices and SANs. Like iSCSI, there are a number of "pre-standard" FCIP products on the market.

Considerations for FCIP deployment FCIP enables multiple local or remote Fibre Channel SANs to be interconnected over an IP network backbone. Since FCIP keeps Fibre Channel services intact, it enables you to maintain a high-performance SAN base, while transparently increasing the interconnectivity and data sharing between SANs on an IP network.

FCIP gateways enable you to connect to a standard Gigabit Ethernet/IP infrastructure, so you are able to cost-effectively set up and manage an IP-based SAN-to-SAN network backbone. FCIP SANs can be deployed over LANs, MANs, or WANs.

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