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Will application functionality move to the switch?

Do you think that application functionality will increasingly be incorporated into or reside on the Fibre Channel switch rather than on the server or storage array? If so, where are we on that landscape? Is anyone ahead at this point?

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Do I think that application functionality will move to the switch? Yes. But, how far that functionality goes is still yet to be determined.

There have been a number of technology start-ups in the last few years that have tried to take the idea of virtualization and put it at the switch level. One of the companies moving in the right direction was Rhapsody Networks. Rhapsody Networks was able to take functionality like tape virtualization, NAS functionality and LUN management and move the management into the now "intelligent" switch. Rhapsody was bought by Brocade last year. Another manufacturer to watch in this space is Maxxan.

Recently, both Brocade and McData have spelled out there vision of putting more functionality at the switch layer. These visions both look to take the value/functionality out of storage. Should EMC be worried? Not yet. I think we're a few years away from having truly viable options from a switch vendor. Keep an eye on it.

Editor's note: Do you agree with this expert's response? If you have more to share, post it in one of our .bphAaR2qhqA^0@/searchstorage>discussion forums.

This was first published in February 2004

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