Data Center Cabling Solutions
What is FCOE? A Brief Overview

What is FCOE? A Brief Overview

  • Jun 10, 2013
  • FCOE, fiber channel over ethernet
  • rpurdy

For those who do not know what FCOE is, it can be another one of those intimidating technology acronyms.  However, like most of these tech acronyms FCOE is not intimidating once you get your head around it.

Once you make the decision to internally outsource your network’s data into your own private Storage Area Network (SAN), you are going to be faced with several options as to how you want to move it. SANs use various protocols, or languages, to communicate information—and each has a specific use.  One of these protocols is called fiber channel over Ethernet (FCOE).

FCOE Simplified

Simply put, FCOE is a platform to facilitate the transfer of fiber based communication. It functions like a path for data to travel across. While FCOE are two different infrastructures, when merged together they create a protocol. This is how it works:

Networks are tricky entities.

Think of all of the equipment required for data to be sent across a network. Switches, adapters and cables are all needed to bridge a connection from a server to the IP address it was intended to reach. All of this hardware creates a high entropy system, or in other words, a complex system.
A high entropy system means disorder. Disorder means financial loss.

The more entropy a system has, the less efficient it runs—and the more it will cost. Think of this like buying and layering 10 shirts to stay warm while running. Adding more network switches, cables and adapters will not just cost you initially; it will also increase the amount you have to spend on utility bills every month.


FCOE creates a lower entropy system by merging fiber channel with Ethernet.

It is designed to save you money while bolstering the infrastructure that you already have by consolidating your hardware. This means less space is taken up, and less energy is consumed.  By connecting your server directly to an FCOE switch, you are harnessing the extremely scalable power of fiber cable without having to spend money and time building a separate network—the network, Ethernet, is already there for you to use.