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Heterogeneous vs. homogeneous SANs

Please explain the differences between heterogeneous and homogeneous SANs.

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Good question, as heterogeneous and homogenous are often used to describe storage and storage networking environments. In a nutshell, homogenous refers to an environment where all of the components are from the same vendor directly or via a partner relationship. Heterogeneous refers to a mixed environment with technology from multiple vendors. Think of heterogeneous as an environment that has interoperable components, and homogenous as a propriety or vendor-specific environment. So when a SAN is referred to as homogenous, it means that it is, for example, an all Brocade, Cisco, CNT, McData, or Qlogic SAN. A heterogeneous SAN would involve components from multiple vendors, for example switches running in interoperability mode.

Another example of a homogenous SAN would be a storage vendor-specific SAN that pairs switches and adapters from a partner with specific storage solutions. Even though another vendor may use the same partner switches and adapters, a storage vendor may not support certain other vendors' storage, thus making it a heterogeneous storage environment.

This was first published in November 2004

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