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Heterogeneous vs. homogeneous SANs

Storage expert Greg Schulz explains the differences between heterogeneous and homogeneous SANs.

Please explain the differences between heterogeneous and homogeneous SANs.

Good question, as heterogeneous and homogenous are often used to describe storage and storage networking environments. In a nutshell, homogenous refers to an environment where all of the components are from the same vendor directly or via a partner relationship. Heterogeneous refers to a mixed environment with technology from multiple vendors. Think of heterogeneous as an environment that has interoperable components, and homogenous as a propriety or vendor-specific environment. So when a SAN is referred to as homogenous, it means that it is, for example, an all Brocade, Cisco, CNT, McData, or Qlogic SAN. A heterogeneous SAN would involve components from multiple vendors, for example switches running in interoperability mode.

Another example of a homogenous SAN would be a storage vendor-specific SAN that pairs switches and adapters from a partner with specific storage solutions. Even though another vendor may use the same partner switches and adapters, a storage vendor may not support certain other vendors' storage, thus making it a heterogeneous storage environment.

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