Never Burn A Bridge

Never burn the bridge, a phrase learned from parents and most sensible people. This is a practical military phrase that means you should never cut off your avenue of retreat as you advanced. In these modern business times it refers to relationships established and how you should leave on good terms so it leaves open future opportunities. I just witnessed it.

At the beginning of this century I worked at a small startup that was developing Fibre Channel (FC) Director Class switches (think many ports and 5-9’s). Part of my role was to attend the INCITS T11 standards meetings to keep up with the latest innovations in the industry. The T11 is a coalition of companies who contribute to the creation of new technology standards. The T11 in those days was working diligently to make the quantum leap from 1GFC to 2GFC. My road then diverged away from Storage Area Networks (SAN) for a few years.

Fast forward to 2014 and I am working in the Fibre Channel Consortium here at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL). I have also started to attend the T11 standards committee meetings once again and it is great to be welcomed back, but much has changed. Instead of 1G Fibre Channel products, today companies are shipping 16GFC (Gen 5) and the T11 committee has just completed the physical specification for 32GFC (Gen 6). The top 5 areas of new development in the Gen 6 documents are:

  • Enhanced Security
  • N-Port Virtualization
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Forward Error Correction
  • 32GFC Speed Definition

The FC-SP-2 standard will further enhance the existing standard by bringing it into compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-131A. N-Port ID Virtualization will simply deployment efforts and N-Port virtualization will greatly increase the scaling of storage fabrics while reducing fabric switch and domain considerations. Energy Efficiency is a hot topic with all data centers and allows for savings whether copper of optical. Forward Error Correction will further improve the reliability of high speed networks by automatically detecting and correcting bit errors. 32GFC is the current goal. The next T11 speed jump will be to 128GFC which appears to be a parallel version of 32GFC.

It is great to be welcomed back and I look forward to working with the T11 standards committees and the Fibre Channel Industry Association to provide the Storage Industry with the best tested products possible. It feels like I never left.