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The meaning of interoperability

What do customers mean by interoperability in the SAN? Vendor finger pointing, compatibility or other?

Well, vendor finger pointing may be a concern but that is not what they mean. When you purchase a SAN solution from a single vendor, all the parts are usually pre-tested and certified by the vendor for the configuration you deploy. This means that the HBA of choice, with the storage of choice, will work seamlessly with the drivers that are installed by the vendor.

When you buy parts from different vendors, you are basically becoming your own SAN integrator. You need to be sure that all the pieces and drivers are "interoperable" with each other (which means they will actually all work together).

It's always safer to go with a pre-tested configuration. Interoperability in SAN is getting much better these days. The Storage Network Industry Association has ratified the SW2 protocol, which lets you connect up switches from different vendors. There may still be issues though when it comes to things like zoning and naming conventions between the switches. Management is also an issue. The element management software from one vendor may not work with another vendor's storage. If you want to use port trunking in your switches, you may have to buy all your fabric switches from the same vendor.

Then there are the interoperability issues with different driver and firmware versions from the SAME vendor that may have issues. It's always best to make sure the parts you buy are certified to work together. The SNIA Web site has some papers on the work they did in the interoperability lab that may help you.


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Dig Deeper on SAN technology and arrays

Purchasing and upgrading enterprise switches Switches help to organize the network and reduce unneeded traffic. Switches are particularly crucial in a storage area network (SAN) and are used to interconnect storage devices into the overall SAN fabric. SAN upgrades often involve changes to the switch fabric. Additional switches can connect more storage devices or establish redundant connections between them, faster switches can accelerate SAN performance, and large switches can be installed to consolidate an assortment of disparate switch devices. There are many switches to choose from, and the actual choice of an enterprise switch demands careful consideration of issues like speed, performance, port count and interoperability. This segment will focus on the considerations of enterprise switches. You'll also find a series of specifications to help make on-the-spot product comparisons between vendors.

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