Where’s the love for fibre channel?

When it comes to high speed network connections I still often see Ethernet. That’s fine it works. But unless I’m missing something fibre channel is as fast and fibre network cards and cables don’t seem to be that expensive in comparison.

Educate me please.

Inexpensive because it’s old. Fiber channel has mostly left the Enterprise datacenter.

It was popular years ago before hyper convergence became popular. Now with storage and compute back in the same box it’s no longer relevant.

Check out 40g or even 100g infiniband, it’s also very cheap compared to Ethernet.


Are you talking about people’s home networking?

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This might be blind leading the blind here on correct terminology… but my understanding is the term fiber channel refers to a specific use case of using fiber connections to make data drives ?directly? available to another machine.

If you are talking about using things like using Ethernet over 10G SFP+ with OM3/4 fiber cable instead of Ethernet over 10gbase-t RJ45/Cat6, then fiber is very popular among enthusiasts who need that level of speed.

I’ve had a 10G SFP+ Home network for many years, thanks to eBay. It’s probably still the cheapest way to do it, used or new.

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Sorry I have mentioned that I was meaning for network attached storage and things like that not internet connections.

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Fibre Channel is distinctly different from Ethernet since the network components are a lot “smarter” than Ethernet needs to be. For example, FC is aware of how much the receiver can handle making the sender hold off before overloading the receiver. Ethernet will just blast away until some ack is not received.

AFAIK both Ethernet and FibreChannel can “encapsulate” data of the other system.

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For the average user copper connections still provide plenty of speed.

On an unrelated subject a number of years back 7-8 to be more precise a really cool thing happened here in New Zealand.

Here in New Zealand internet providers and phone providers don’t own the actual lines they just provide the service. The government owns the line infrastructure.

Anyway the government decided that everyone in the country should be able to have a fibre connection if they wanted so they did a huge countrywide infrastructure upgrade.

I chose to hook up and I have gigabit fibre internet at my house.

It’s like electricity, if you live residential and are willing to pay the installation costs you can 3 phase power in your house as it’s on every pole. I did and it’s awesome.

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Well I agree on the internet coming to your house via fibre, but thats not what you were talking about now, was it?

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No not all but when you mentioned copper it made me think about that. Hence why I said “on an unrelated note”.

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Fiber channel was developed primarily for storage, … think SCSI over fiber…but turns out you can embed IP instead of SCSI into fiber channel.

These days there’s NVMe-OF - OF stands for over fabrics… it can be TCP/IP , RDMA, or apparently also fiber channel…

Overall, there’s lots of hardware out there that speaks Ethernet and IP for obvious reasons, so if you’re designing transport for a storage protocol, it makes might as well leverage existing routing and switching hardware that people are already deploying.


2c… as someone who’s been doing this a while but relatively tech agnostic and not trying to sell stuff:
Fibre channel is just not versatile.

Ethernet won. I can run network, storage or whatever over it.

I’ve had a fibre channel array before and it was a pain in the ass. Bespoke FC switch required, bespoke HBAs required, FC knowledge required, etc. Run out of ports or break a port or HBA? You’re boned.

Ethernet? Just put port in specific VLAN, have at it. Switch failure? Pull a sufficiently speedy spare switch out or move ports to an alternative switch and you’re back up.

Sure, ethernet has its quirks and you need to spec it appropriately but give me ethernet over fibre channel any day of the week.

For those not aware - fibre != fibre channel. Fibre channel is its own protocol that runs over fibre normally. You can run ethernet over fibre and technically could probably run fibre channel over copper as its the protocol not the media type that defines fibre channel. You can even run Fibre Channel over IP if I recall.


Mainline upstream kernel has support for it (then again, it supports everything under the sun and still not enough things).


Worth noting that you can get fabric switches that can do Fibre channel or ethernet. Cisco UCS uses them.

But… meh.

IMHO: Just put in high speed ethernet everywhere you’d run FC and run either iSCSI, NFS, IP or as mix as appropriate.

If there’s one thing I’ve seen as a consistent trend during. my career its been the commoditisation of hardware and the movement to software based solutions. Software firewalls, routers, modems, audio processing, etc. Because it’s more flexible once general purpose processing gets fast enough.

Ethernet has become the hardware layer, iSCSI and NFS (or if you have some demented legacy reason, FCOE or FCOIP) are the software layer for network storage.