As the Fibre Channel Industry Association's (FCIA) SANMark program passes its second birthday, there are enough vendors with SANMark certified products to make it worth looking for the SANMark logo on SAN components to help ensure interoperability.

SANMark is designed to test SANs and SAN components against existing standards, specifically the FC-SW-2 SAN standard. It aims to demonstrate conformance to the standards, and hence interoperability in real-world situations. Products that pass the test suites can use the SANMark logo.

The SANMark program consists of a number of test suites, each aimed at verifying interoperability of a different part of the FC-SW-2 standard. For example SCD (SAN Conformance Document) SCD-1001 tests cables to be sure they can handle worst-case stress. Others SCDs test things like operation with Registered State Change Notifications (RSCNs) that a device will be visible and able to locate other devices on the name server if they are in the same zone and invisible if they are not in the same zone.

The suites are designed to exercise the capabilities of the products being tested against the specification and to test efficiency as well as functionality. In other words the SANMark suites not only tell if two products work together under the standard, but they indicate how well they work together.

Although the SANMark logo can be used as an indication of interoperability, the main purpose of the SANMark tests is to help vendors

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develop and tune their products to play better in the SAN universe. The SCDs detailing the suites are available from the FCIA at While the tests are designed to be self-administered by vendors, products can be submitted for official SANMark qualification, including the right to use the SANMark logo on products that pass, for a fee. So far more than 72 products from 21 vendors have qualified.

It's important to note that the SANMark suites are not designed to test conformance to every aspect of every part of the FC-SW-2 specification. Instead the suites are concentrated on potential problem areas.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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This was first published in December 2002

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