Behind the firewall 8

Desktop-class Fibre Channel to replace ATA and SATA? ... LTO getting wormy? ... Open fabric management delayed until 2005 ... Cisco MDS switch not working as well as expected ... EMC launching tape.

Sources say that a high-capacity, desktop-class Fibre Channel (FC) drive may be in the works as an alternative...

to ATA and Serial ATA drives being used for nearline storage systems. This would allow external storage subsystem vendors to second-tier storage without having to retrofit their FC enclosures with Serial ATA.


The task of porting Veritas volume management software to Cisco's MDS switch has been described as a nightmare, and has taken well over a year of concerted effort by 60+ engineers. What took so long? It turns out that porting software designed 10 years ago to run on the host is a "non-trivial task," our source says. Furthermore, the project was also held up by legal issues.

EMC's plans to port to the Cisco switch, meanwhile, are still on, despite the recent announcement that it will develop and port software for McData's new intelligent platform. The same holds true for Brocade's Fabric Application Platform.

We hear from reliable sources that LTO-3 will feature a write once, read many (WORM) option. Tape vendors to offer worm thus far include StorageTek, with its VolSafe option, and Sony, with its AIT-3, and now, SAIT drives. IBM has also stated it is developing a WORM version of its next generation 3592 family of tape drives and cartridges.

Industry veteran Gareth Taube has left ExaGrid Systems, Westborough, MA, a startup backed by Highland Capital Partners and Sigma Partners. Prior to ExaGrid, which is making a distributed disk-based backup array, Taube held positions at Emulex Corp., by way of Giganet, as head of its IP storage networking business.

The Fabric Application Interface Standard (FAIS) has been pushed back for release in 2005, instead of this summer, as had originally been planned. FAIS will provide a network-based virtualization API standard that all vendors can use irrespective of the FC switch platform. It prevents users from getting locked into one vendor's virtualization solution.

EMC knows that tape has been a blind spot in its overall storage vision and will soon move aggressively in this direction. Or perhaps it already has. At press time, several industry insiders were speculating that the company was on the verge of launching a virtual tape device.

Softek recently broke its TDMF replication software into two product offerings: Replicator and TDMF. Replicator is targeted for doing asynchronous data migrations over IP networks as well as for disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. TDMF will be used for migrations where the storage appears as local to the server, such as in iSCSI, SCSI and FC-attached environments.

Does the current crop of disk arrays leave you thirsting for more? One industry expert claims that codevelopment work between IBM and Hitachi Data Systems will yield the "biggest, baddest" disk array ever seen by year-end 2004.

EMC's NS600 and NS700 NAS heads will support iSCSI in Q3. Right now, customers are being told that that's the timeframe to think about implementing it, so expect a major iSCSI push from EMC at that time. Also, all of EMC's refreshed products (NS700, CX700, CX500, Symm DMX-2) will be priced below the ones they're replacing.

EMC Celerra owners got a rude surprise on January 10, 2004. The Celerra was among several computer products affected by a date bug. The box stopped accepting client authentication due to the fact that the Kerberos code used in it stored time in a 30-bit number. Jan 10, 2004 is one billion bits from the Unix epoch, you see.... EMC heard about it just before and sent every capable hand out to patch every Celerra in the world just before the 10th. It was a major war room situation! A February 5th patch fixed the bug for sure.

Behind the Firewall is written by a team of industry insiders who, for obvious reasons, prefer to remain anonymous. If you have tips, send them to
This was last published in April 2004

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