Intel has announced software that it said will enable developers to build and test Fibre Channel over Ethernet offerings on Linux-based systems.

This would allow IT administrators simplify storage area network (SAN) infrastructure in the data centre, Intel said.

The open source software package from Intel is currently available for download at http://www.open-fcoe.org/. The package includes a software key to access Fibre Channel over Ethernet along with support tools, said Intel officials. A software initiator, or key, creates a session with a source target to establish connectivity and send data to the target device or application.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet is a proposed standard specification which aims to enable storage area network (SAN) traffic to be natively delivered over Ethernet networks. Supported by several large IT vendors, the networking protocol is expected by be ratified by the American National Standards Institute T11 body in mid-2008, said Jordan Plawner, Intel storage planner and technologist

Plawner said Intel's Fibre Channel over Ethernet open source project is designed to enable the Linux community to create a native standards-based software stack that can be easily integrated into Linux OS distributions. "Linux is a little behind [Microsoft] Windows in being storage friendly," within the data center, said Plawner.

He said that extending Fibre Channel over Ethernet to Linux users should help IT administrators simplify data center management by combining local area network and SAN infrastructure components into a single 10-gigabit system.

Intel conferred with experts at Linux providers Red Hat Inc. and Novell to ensure that the offering would be as Linux friendly as possible, noted Plawner.