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(also FC/IP, Fiber Channel over Internet Protocol, Fibre Channel tunneling, storage tunneling)

FCIP definition

Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol (FCIP) is a protocol used for the transmission of Fibre Channel (FC) storage traffic over standard IP (Internet Protocol) networks — like the internet. This way, FCIP allows organizations to leverage existing IP infrastructure to connect geographically dispersed private data centers.

See also: IP network, IP packet, fiber channel storage area network, tunneling, storage area network server, storage over internet protocol

How FCIP works

To extend the reach of FC connections beyond the limitations of traditional FC cabling, FCIP uses tunneling — a technique for moving data across a network using protocols the latter does not support. FCIP encapsulates Fibre Channel frames within IP packets, allowing FC traffic to be transported over IP networks.

FCIP uses gateways to translate traffic between Fibre Channel and FCIP protocols. These gateways connect to the Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN) on one side and to the IP network on the other side.

FCIP drawbacks

While FCIP is useful for long-distance connectivity, it introduces additional latency compared to local Fibre Channel connections. The latency is especially notable because FC is a high-performance networking technology specifically designed for high-bandwidth communication between servers and storage devices.

Furthermore, because FC data is usually confidential or otherwise sensitive, it must be properly secured for transmission over IP networks. To protect this information, organizations typically use secure IP protocols (such as IPsec) or deploy FCIP over private networks.