Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA)
The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) is a mutual benefit non-profit international organization of manufacturers, system integrators, developers, vendors, industry professionals and end users. The FCIA is committed to delivering a broad base of Fibre Channel infrastructure technology to support a wide array of applications within the mass storage and IT-based arenas. FCIA working groups and committees focus on specific aspects of the technology, targeting both vertical and horizontal markets including data storage, video, networking and storage area networking (SAN) management.
Why Fibre Channel?
Fibre Channel is the solution for IT professionals who need reliable, cost-effective information storage and delivery at blazing speeds. With development started in 1988 and ANSI standard approval in 1994, Fibre Channel is the mature, safe solution for one and two gigabit communications.
Today's data explosion presents unprecedented challenges incorporating a wide range of application requirements such as database and file management, transaction processing, data warehousing, imaging, integrated audio/video, networked storage, real-time computing, collaborative projects and CAD/CAE. Fibre Channel is simply the easiest, most reliable solution for information storage and retrieval.
Fibre Channel Overview
Storage Area Networking is a term used to describe one of the most popular uses of Fibre Channel. While the benefits of SAN have been long apparent, it was only with the advent of Fibre Channel that massive adoption of open SAN topology became feasible.
Storage networking involves amassing large volumes of data and distributing it. The actual network that evolves from storage networking is known as a Storage Area Network (SAN). Preeminent storage networks are based on Fibre Channel technology and are known as Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks or Fibre Channel SANs. In this publication, all SANs are based on Fibre Channel technology.
Fibre Channel Standards
The Technical Committee T11, which is the committee within NCITS, is responsible for Device Level Interfaces. T11 has been producing interface standards for high-performance and mass storage applications since the 1970s. Currently, T11's program of work includes three families of standards:
- Fibre Channel (FC)
- High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI)
- Intelligent Peripheral Interface (IPI)
The Technical Committee T11 has its own web site providing access to past and current specifications, as well as drafts being considered for the future of fibre channel technology.
Fibre Channel SANs
Fibre Channel SANs help IT staff solve one of their greatest challenges today, managing exponentially growing terabytes of data. As new or upgraded applications store new data in new ways, the control of and access to this information is crucial. Corporate information is the one irreplaceable feature of a company. Applications, computers, networks, and individuals can be replaced, but if a company's knowledge base is taken away, the company will probably not survive. Thriving in the information age requires adept handling of the exponential growth of a corporation's most vital asset information.
Fibre Channel SANs encompass a systematic approach to developing storage networks. From the specifications of connectors at the physical level to querying the fabric for the IP address of a storage device, Fibre Channel has a standardized process. NCITS ANSI continues to develop new standards that will increase the functionality and performance of Fibre Channel SANs. The Fibre Channel industry has the user in mind and has developed programs to qualify interoperability between equipment and solutions.
Three key IT problems have driven the phenomenal growth of Fibre Channel installations:
- Business Continuity When Disaster Strikes Businesses cannot exist without the ability to store and retrieve data.
- Efficient Use of IT Ressources IT systems are a heterogeneous mix of storage, servers, and workstations.
- Multiplatform Storage Fibre Channel high-performance networks optimize integration and utilization of IT systems, a heterogeneous mix of storage, servers, and workstations.
Fibre Channel Features
Fibre Channel is the solution for IT professionals who need reliable, cost-effective information storage and delivery at blazing speeds. With development starting in 1988, ANSI standard approval in 1994, and massive deployment beginning in 1998, Fibre Channel is still growing strong. Fibre Channel is the mature, safe solution for high-speed communications and is the foundation for over 90% of all SAN (Storage Area Network) installations throughout the world.
Fibre Channel is a fast, reliable data transport system that scales to meet the requirements of any enterprise. Today, installations range from small post-production systems on Fibre Channel loop to very large systems linking thousands of users, servers, and storage systems into a switched, Fibre Channel network.
- Fibre Channel is ideal for these applications:
- High-performance storage
- High-performance disk and tape/tape silo IO
- Large data bases and data warehouses
- Storage backup systems and recovery
- Server clusters
- Network-based storage (i.e., SANs)
- High-performance workgroups
- Campus backbones
- Digital audio/video networks
SNIA and FCIA
The SNIA recognizes that FCIA represents expertise in the area of Fibre Channel as used in storage networking as well as being a key industry association involved in the development of marketing requirements for coordinating with the T11 standards organization, and wishes to facilitate SNIA input into FCIA activities and FCIA input into SNIA Fibre Channel related activities.