Capturing Fibre Channel traffic

Posted on 2004-11-03
Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Hi there,

Anyone knows if there is some kind of Fibre Channel traffic capturing application/driver like Ethereal and libpcap?

It seems like Ethereal support FCP and iSCSI, however there isn't a driver level utility like libpcap that support HBA(FCP).

Any idea?

Question by:kwseow
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    LVL 22

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    I never heard of this so when I saw the links provided by kcarrim, I thought wow this is great. Perhaps I just did not look hard enough but the first link provided nothing but information, the second was for a performance monitoring product.

    As far as I know ( which is not too far) there is only one way to capture Fibre Channel traffic and that is by hooking up an analyzer inline. They are very expensive and hard to use, so there are few people who have that ability.

    Author Comment


    That's my understanding too.  I'm toying with this idea to start a PC-based anaylsis for FCP... something that is to use Ethereal and a library like libpcap.

    Anyone has any suggestion(s) ?

    LVL 30

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    It would be an interesting problem to solve - quite how you'll get around the hardware issues will be interesting. If you were going to sniff packets on an existing link you'd need to design your own fibre optic adapter so that you can sit on the wire/fibre optic cable and watch traffic. Existing FC HBAs from QLogic and Emulex do the protocol processing on the HBA itself so I think you'd have trouble using existing hardware. The card would try to perform a FLOGI whether you want it to or not....

    I must admit though that I think that the market for such a sniffer wouldn't be huge - FC is a pretty esoteric protocol. It also seems to me that iSCSI (much as I think that it is an immature product now) will make big inroads in to FCP's dominance in the SAN environment.

    Nevertheless, it is a very interesting idea, and full of fascinating technological problems to be solved...

    Author Comment

    Hi meryersd.

    Not too sure if I'm getting you right. Tapping of FC can be done by using Taps right? Then the next question is whether FC HBA has a "promiscuous" as in Ethernet and I can program the HBA's API to return me all frames received.


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    by:Duncan Meyers
    >Then the next question is whether FC HBA has a "promiscuous"

    Errr, I don't know, (I've certainly have never seen any related settings in the HBA BIOS) but I'd be surprised if they did because FC is a point-to-point protocol. Also, FC HBAs are presented to the host OS as a SCSI device.

    I've been looking at QLogic's website - they aren't  exactly a fount of information. You may want to post a query with their tech support people.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the advise... I'll certainly take a look at what they have got to offer.
    LVL 55

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    How about getting a Cisco MDS 9000 switch? Has inbuilt fibrechannel protocol analyzer plus SPAN capability.

    Author Comment

    Thanks to all who comment.


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