Europe Better Equipped for Distributed SANs

Europe is burning with SAN fever.

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European storage managers, like their North American counterparts, have recognized the benefits of storage area networks (SANs), such as lower cost, better availability and utilization, increased performance and scalability. Of 450 users interviewed in 2002 for The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) Europe, approximately two-thirds had either already consolidated their storage using SAN technology or were planning to. The study...

predicts a $3.2 billion European SAN market for 2003, growing to $5.7 billion in 2005.

But alas, only distributed SANs are really useful, says Aidan Paul, CEO of UK-based Vtesse Networks. "Single-site means all eggs in one basket," requiring third-party provisions for disaster recovery (DR), leading to duplicate data and processing. "Multisite SANs enable self-provided DR," moving the focus from "avoiding discontinuity" to "managing continuity."

Fortunately for Europe, its fiber infrastructure is conducive to geographically distributed SANs, suggests Steve Broadhead, director of NSS testing labs: "At the very least, Western Europe is in a strong position to deploy distributed SANs over the wide area, with broadband connections linking all the major cities and many minor ones. In my own locale, in the south of France, we have a number of service providers offering high-speed WAN connections to the kind of towns and cities--size-wise--that would be largely ignored by that level of provider in the United States."

Vtesse's Aidan Paul adds a different view: Most European cities and towns are simply closer. "Below 75 km, customers don't need amplifiers, and that happens to be a typical intercity distance in Europe, whereas the U.S. has vast open areas."

Paul Trowbridge, Brocade's EMEA marketing director, has seen a "massive increase in SAN interconnects" over the last two years. "Thirty to 40% of enterprise customers, especially financial," are now asking for interconnected solutions. Reasons include new regulatory requirements and raised disaster recovery awareness.

The same seems true for the United States. This February, San Jose, CA-based Infonetics Research forecasted a 52% increase in North American companies deploying SAN interconnection by 2007 (58,000 companies) and 38% growth for Europe (52,600).

Actual numbers might lag behind, with industry observers estimating the number of multicity SANs currently deployed in the United States at approximately 20.

This was first published in June 2003

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