Fibre Channel of Things (FCoT)
April 1, 2017 1 Comment
The “Internet of Things” is well underway. There are of course the hilarious bad examples of the technology (follow @internetofshit for some choice picks), but there are many valid ways that IoT infrastructure can be extremely useful. With the networked compute we can crank out for literally pennies and the data they can relay to process, IoT is here to stay.
Hacking a dishwasher is the new hacking a gibson
But there’s one thing that these dishwashers, cars, refrigerators, Alexa’s, etc., all lack: Access to decent storage.
The storage on many IoT devices is either terrible or nonexistent. Unreliable flash storage or no storage at all. That’s why the Fibre Channel T19 working group created a standard for FCoT (Fibre Channel of Things). This gives small devices access to real storage, powered by arrays not cheap and unreliable local flash storage.
The FCoT suite is a combination of VXSAN and FCIP. VXSAN provides the multi-tenancy and scale to fibre channel networks, and FCIP gives access to the VXSANs from a variety of FCaaS providers over the inferior IP networks (why IoT devices chose IP instead of FC for their primary connectivity, I’ll never know). Any IoT connected device can do a FLOGI to a FCaaS service and get access to a proper block storage. Currently both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure offer FCoT/FCaaS services, with Google expected to announce support by the end of June 2017.
Your refrigerator probably doesn’t need access to block storage, but your car probably does. Why? Devices that are sending back telemetry (autonomous cars are said to produce 4 TB per day) need to put that data somewhere, and if that data is to be useful, that storage needs to be reliable. FCaaS provides this by exposing Fibre Channel primitives.
Tiered storage, battery backed-up RAM cache, MLC SSDs, 15K RPM drives, these are all things that FCoT can provide that you can’t get in a mass-produced chip with inexpensive consumer flash storage.
As the IoT plays out, it’s clear that FCoT will be increasingly necessary.