Putting storage on the WAN

What's out there for enterprises looking to move their storage solutions to a local- or wide-area network?

Putting storage on the WAN
By Alan Earls

OC-48 2.5 Gbps-based storage may be on its way to the enterprise market soon. At this Spring's Networld+Interop show, Nashua, NH-based Storage Computer Corporation (AMEX: SOS), demonstrated what it claims is the first OC-48 network-attached storage (NAS) system.

The company's ominously named CyberBORG product has the claimed capability of moving 450 Mbytes/second of data on a sustained basis. CyberNAS, also offered by Storage Computer, is a network attached storage system with direct optical connectivity offering, what the company calls, "performance characteristics of a SAN and simplicity of a NAS environment." Storage Computer says the CyberNAS system with its optical interface (OC-48) is capable of simultaneously delivering large blocks of information, including digital images and financial data, across a WAN at speeds of two- to 10-times faster than other currently available storage systems. The beauty of the SWAN
Defined as SWAN (storage wide area network) devices, the CyberNAS and CyberBorg optically attached storage systems support all storage architectures (NAS, SAN, and DAS) and currently provide the ability to accelerate response and data delivery times exponentially.

Commenting specifically on the Storage Computer announcement, Illuminata analyst John Webster, who cautions that he is a former Storage Computer official, notes that the company has essentially married an OC-48 interface with a virtual disk array that has a very fast back end.

"Since many users of multiple SANs want ways of interconnecting those SANs over MAN or WAN connections, this could be a viable alternative," he says. "SPs and telcos could also find applications for this technology."

Other WAN solutions
Tokyo-based Anritsu Company and San Jose-based SANcastle Technologies, Inc. used the Networld venue to announce a demonstration of a networking solution that integrates Fibre Channel-based SAN data and enterprise LAN data over high-speed optical MAN/WAN links -- also at up to OC-48 (2.5 Gbps) speed.

Such remote storage connectivity can be useful for applications such as content distribution, volume management, and disaster recovery.

Until now, there was no cost-effective way for IT managers to seamlessly connect remote storage networks. Expensive MAN/WAN links were necessary, and these could not be used for LAN transport because the SAN was using them. This new capability combines the Anritsu MultiFlow(tm) 5000 Layer 2/3/4 Gigabit Ethernet switch and the SANcastle GFS-8(tm) Global Fabric Switch. The resulting enterprise networking solution greatly lowers costs and equipment requirements by using Ethernet and IP technology to allow both SAN and LAN data streams to share a single 2.5 Gbps OC-48 optical link.

SANcastle has developed a multiple protocol switch that enables seamless bi-directional integration of Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet networks over long distances without disruption or technology changes. SANcastle's GFS-8TM is the world's first Global Fabric Switch. A unique, high-speed integrating switch, it enables a company's Fibre Channel network and IP network to work together seamlessly as a single connected network fabric. No changes are required to either network since GFS-8 is compatible with both networks' standards.

Additional Resources:
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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

This was first published in June 2001

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