Fibre Channel standards get boost from two industry groups

Two key industry standards organizations have approved the technical standards for multi-vendor Fibre Channel switch interoperability, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) announced.

Aug 1st, 2001

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Two key industry standards organizations have approved the technical standards for multi-vendor Fibre Channel switch interoperability, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) announced.

Approval came from the FC-SW-2, a joint effort between the FCIA and the T11, the committee within the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) responsible for Fiber Channel device interfaces.

The FC-SW-2 standards enable Fibre Channel switches to communicate with each other at several different levels, such as connectivity and configuration; path selection and routing; and management and event services.

FC-SW-2 also provides standardized mechanisms enabling SAN management applications to configure, manage and monitor a Fibre Channel SAN in a multi-vendor environment, from any particular point in the fabric.

"Interoperability is the hallmark of a mature, widely deployed technology, and by approving the latest standard for Fibre Channel switch fabrics we continue to deliver consistent, proven benefits to our customers while protecting their current and future investments in storage area networks," says Skip Jones, the FCIA chairman.

"This is a major technology achievement in establishing multi-level interoperability in building Fabric-based SANs, all the way from providing link level communication between the switches to allowing scalable configuration, routing and management services throughout the Fabric," says Kumar Malavalli, chairman of the T11 technical committee.

The FC-SW-2 standard specifies switch-to-switch communication across three levels: level 1 addresses switch connectivity and configuration by allowing Fibre Channel switches to interoperate at the link level and by enabling switches to be configured as part of physical and logical configurations (such as zoning). Fabric zones allow customers to partition their storage network based on application requirements and to create virtual private SANs within a larger SAN.

Level 2 defines path selection and routing, which create interoperability at the operational level. The Fabric Shortest Path First (FSPF) selection process — a key element of the FC-SW-2 — allows paths to be set up between end devices using multi-switch fabrics, enabling customers to design and implement Fibre Channel configurations based on their individual requirements.

Level 3 specifies management and event services. These allow Fibre Channel services to be implemented using a distributed model, increasing availability and scalability throughout the entire fabric. The Name Server and Management Server allow the physical and logical SAN topology to be discovered through upper-level SAN management applications, thereby facilitating resource management and capacity planning. Event services create the means for SAN administrators to be notified in case of configuration changes, allowing them to take appropriate action.

Six Fibre Channel switch vendors are shipping FC-SW-2 compliant products: Brocade Communications Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.; Gadzoox Networks of San Jose, Calif.; INRANGE Technologies in Lumberton, N.J.; McDATA Corp. in Broomfield, Colo.; QLogic Corp. in Aliso Viejo, Calif.; and Vixel Corp. in Bothell, Wash.

For more information contact the FCIA by phone at 415-750-8355, or on the World Wide Web at http://www. fibrechannel.org/.

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