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With all the acronyms floating around in storage discussions these days — and with new ones seemingly popping up on a daily basis — it can be quite difficult keeping on top of them all. As such, we often get emails from readers asking about many of these mysterious acronyms and what they mean to network storage. Sometimes understanding what the acronym stands for is enough to gain some understanding of the technology; other times it doesn’t help much at all. In the next two Storage Basics articles, we’re going to uncover a few of these acronyms, starting with FCIP, iFCP, SoIP, NDMP, and SMI-S.
When we spell out the acronym FCIP, Fibre Channel over IP, we get an idea of what the protocol is designed for. FCIP represents two separate technologies designed to address storage networking requirements as well as the need to network over large distances. The first component is Fibre Channel. Fibre Channel is an established technology optimized for storage-data movement, interoperability, and proven applications for localized storage networking. The second component, Internet Protocol (IP), is a mature technology with a proven ability to transport data over WAN distances.
FCIP combines the best features of both Fibre Channel and the Internet Protocol to connect distributed SANs. FCIP encapsulates Fibre Channel and transports it over a TCP socket. FCIP is considered a tunneling protocol, as it makes a transparent point-to-point connection between geographically separated SANs over IP networks. FCIP relies on TCP/IP services to establish connectivity between remote SANs over LANs, MANs, or WANs. TCP/IP is also responsible for congestion control and management, as well as for data error and data loss recovery.
The advantage of FCIP is that it can use TCP/IP as the transport while keeping Fibre Channel fabric services intact. This allows organizations to leverage their existing technology investments by extending the Fibre Channel fabric over an IP-based link. In many modern network environments, both the IP infrastructure and the expertise are already in place to manage the IP component.