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Silverback brings specialized silicon to SANs

Silverback Systems, a Campbell, Calif.-based company with a design center in Rochester, MN has been soaking up venture capital. The fledgling company has received financial backing to the tune of more than $15 million from Gemini Israel Fund, JP Morgan Partners, Newbury Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital and U.S. Trust Private Equity Capital. What is fueling all of the monetary backing? Apparently it's Silverback version of an IP storage architecture.

Labeled iSNAP -- the product family provides IP network connectivity and storage network protocol processing. According to the company, the first product in the family, the iSNAP2100, is targeted at a variety of applications in IP-based, storage area networks (SANs). That includes servers, storage arrays and fabric devices such as virtualization boxes, storage-aware routers, and specific implementations like host bus adapters (HBAs).

"The networking of storage, especially using IP, is not only critical, it is strategic. But it requires a new type of network protocol engine," said Ron Kroesen, Silverback VP of marketing. "The generic network processors in use today generally focus on packet processing only, without regard to full connection context. It is in effect, a stateless processor unable to fully terminate TCP connections or upper layer protocols. Nor is the typical NPU capable of managing and bookkeeping connection and session events," continued Kroesen.

"Network processors are typically found in

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switches and routers within the fabric, while iSNAP can be used in the fabric for storage-aware switches as well as all types of edge devices. Storage network access processors are the only way to really accelerate the adoption of IP-based SANs," said Kroesen.

In a recent IEEE bulletin, a Silverback engineer noted that general-purpose processors aren't capable of handling all these tasks primarily due to their memory management schemes, switching overhead, and "lack of special function units." By contrast, he noted that the SNAP architecture is "capable of performing iSCSI, TOE, NAS, and other TCP/IP-based acceleration to fit various configuration requirements."

"By leveraging current TCP/IP and Ethernet infrastructures, SilverBack offers a simplified approach to IP network storage. SilverBack's iSNAP is to IP storage what email was to the Internet -- a transparent application -- as IT professionals don't require extensive learning curves found in other storage configurations," said Dianne McAdam, senior analyst with Illuminata, Inc.

According to Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group, the company was launched by Oran Uzrad-Nali, a veteran of MMC Networks and many of the other employees come from LSI Logic. Gwennap, noted the company is most closely comparable to Trebia Networks, an East Coast startup with its own "storage network processor."

For more information:

For additional information on Silverback, visit its Web site
Article: Users bogged down in IP storage hype
Learn about intelligence on which emerging technologies are worth pursuing from Marc Staimer, Dragon Slayer Consulting at Storage Decisions 2002.

  • Alan Earls often writes about things NAS and SAN in his weekly "SAN/NAS Update: Trends" column. View the latest
  • About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.


    This was first published in July 2002

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