I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mike Fratto, site editor and lead analyst from Network Computing, called me out in this article, with the following statement:
two nodes using FCoE connected to a Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender, which is connected to a Nexus 5000, does not constitute end-to-end Ethernet FCoE because the Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender is just a bump in the wire and switching occurs on the Nexus 5000. If you want to call the Nexus 2000 a hop (and you know who you are, Brad, you might as well call the CAT6 cable between them a hop as well. So there. LOL
Mike and I had a pretty heated exchanged on Twitter when he published a different but related article that preceded this one. I passionately disagreed with his headline Brocade First to market with End to End FCoE. We did keep it professional, but in hindsight I realize more of my focus should have been on Brocade, not Mike Fratto who was just the messenger carrying a bill of goods given to him by Brocade. I’m relieved to see it ended in a light hearted fashion like this.
I really enjoyed reading this article, Mike, and I got a much needed laugh out of it. So, Thank You! :-)
Now, back to business:
Whether the Nexus 2232 FCoE fabric extender is a “hop”, or not, is largely irrelevant. If you think about it, the resulting solution provides the same “end to end FCoE” (as described by Brocade) without all of the “hops” otherwise required in a Brocade design, and without all of the management, configuration, and design complexity that comes with each “hop”.
Ultimately, I tend to believe customers don’t care about what is and is not technically an FCoE “hop”. The “hop” in whatever shape or form it presents itself is just the means to an end (solution). More importantly, customers are more interested in solutions addressing a given set of requirements (such as # of servers, racks, bandwidth, pod size and scalability, etc.) With the Cisco Nexus 5000/2232 FCoE fabric extender solution, the design complexity of a “hop” is effectively siphoned away while still addressing the multi rack scalability requirements. Why is this unique approach to FCoE scalability so quickly dismissed in a discussion about “end to end FCoE” or “multi-hop FCoE”?
Interestingly enough, the confusion Brocade has recently created around the applicability of TRILL to FCoE will, IMHO, only make the Nexus FCoE fabric extender solution even more attractive to customers in the sense that it’s easier to deploy and understand. Just as Mike described it: “a bump in the wire” —^—
Does it get any easier than that?