<storage, networking, communications> An ANSI standard originally intended for high-speed SANs connecting servers, disc arrays, and backup devices, also later adapted to form the physical layer of Gigabit Ethernet.
Development work on Fibre channel started in 1988 and it was approved by the ANSI standards committee in 1994, running at 100Mb/s. More recent innovations have seen the speed of Fibre Channel SANs increase to 10Gb/s. Several topologies are possible with Fibre Channel, the most popular being a number of devices attached to one (or two, for redundancy) central Fibre Channel switches, creating a reliable infrastructure that allows servers to share storage arrays or tape libraries.
One common use of Fibre Channel SANs is for high availability databaseq clusters where two servers are connected to one highly reliable RAID array. Should one server fail, the other server can mount the array itself and continue operations with minimal downtime and loss of data.
Other advanced features include the ability to have servers and hard drives seperated by hundreds of miles or to rapidly mirror data between servers and hard drives, perhaps in seperate geographic locations.