In the recent weeks, J. Michael Metz from Cisco entered a ****ing contest with my friend Greg and decided to prove that the FCoE standards are done. Iím a bit worried about the slightly nervously aggressive tone of his writing, but the bigger problem is that heís completely missing the point: usually it takes around a year from a stable technical solution to a shipping product (more so if custom silicon is involved).
The questions we should be asking Cisco and other FCoE vendors are thus:
Is your currently shipping hardware truly compatible with the standards? We all know that the generic ideas behind a specific standard are known well in advance, but the last-minute changes can represent either a minor annoyance (if they are in the control plane, which is implemented in software on a generic-purpose CPU) or a major headache (if they require hardware changes). Dear vendors: are you willing to certify that we will not have to upgrade your hardware when your implementation conforms to the DCB standards? Are you willing to offer free upgrades if your hardware turns out to be incompatible?
When will you ship the standard-compliant version of software and hardware? The question whether 802.1Qbb and 802.1Qaz standards are ìdoneî or not is becoming a pure semantic exercise. Itís more important to know when weíll see the standards implemented in shipping products.
What are you doing to ensure cross-vendor interoperability with pre-standard products? Before the (almost done) DCB standards are implemented in shipping products, we need to know what works and whatís officially supported. Cisco, NetApp and VMware apparently did an end-to-end test. However, I was unable to find the test reports or exact configurations on their joint web site. There are at least three components in every FCoE installation: the storage, the switch and the CNA. While the first two were specified in the press release, the third one (CNAs they tested) was not.
Thereís also a non-technical questions Iíd like to ask:
When will you align your FCoE stories? Netapp claiming FCoE needs TRILL and Cisco claiming it doesnít does not help your joint customers. Those of us that bothered to read the FC-BB-5 before writing about FCoE know the answer … but if you guys canít get together a coherent synchronized story, how can an average engineer hope to implement this technology in the Data Center network?
Last but not least (warning: shameless plug ahead): if youíre trying to sort out the emerging technologies and acronyms, youíll get a big-picture overview in my Data Center 3.0 for Networking Engineers webinar (register here).