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Inrange releases 128-port Fibre Channel fabric switch

Banking on the accelerated adoption of Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs) in the enterprise marketplace, Inrange Technologies has released the 128-port model of its IN-VSN FC/9000 Fibre Channel Director, a switching infrastructure, which enables users to centrally manage and add storage resources in SANs.

An Fibre Channel director provides a central point of connectivity and manageability for SAN infrastructures. According to Inrange, based in Lumberton, N.J., the director is the "traffic cop" that servers and storage systems connect to in order to speak to one another. For scale, it is generally accepted that a director must support at least 32 concurrent devices.

"Our customers, and the market, don't want to rely upon dozens or hundreds of discrete little devices, all stitched together with cables. Too tough to manage, too tough to plan, and very high risk," said Chuck Foley, chief technology officer for Inrange.

Since directors are one logical switching element that can accommodate 128 devices, they do not require cables between little switches (called intersystem links, or ISLs). Directors provide a way to aggregate and scale SAN infrastructure and improve manageability. Directors simplify, fundamentally, the deployment and management of infrastructure.

The FC/9000-128 has no single point of failure protecting the network from outage danger due to a failure in the switching element. "With little switches stitched together, there is a real risk of downtime if one or more of the switches that are cabled together have a problem," said Foley.

Directors have what is known as a non-blocking architecture, which means that all devices in the SAN can speak through the network at full speed, without having their traffic "blocked" due to network traffic jams.

"Networks of smaller switches normally are prone to over subscription, a bad thing that can be associated with overbooking in the airline industry," said Foley. "In an over subscription environment, there are more devices attached to the network than their is internal network bandwidth, which means that someone is going to just have to wait for network resources being freed up."

Inrange introduced the industry's first 64-port fibre channel director in early 2000, in response to this emerging market need for users to build SANs that could expand easily and maintain performance levels as ports were added, that were simpler to manage than weaving together a mesh of smaller switches, and that offered bullet-proof levels of redundancy to protect businesses with no tolerance for downtime.

The 128-port FC Director is available immediately for factory orders. Users of the 64-port FC/9000 systems can migrate to 128-port models through simple field upgrades.

According to Inrange more than 98% of the traffic directed by its FC/9000 technology is for Unix, NT, Linux, and other open systems platforms. The technology has no server or storage platform bias. The design allows SAN switching to scale from 24 to 256 ports with the performance per port does not degrade.

With its technology partner QLogic, Inrange will provide 2GB and 256 port director technologies later in 2001.

In the Fibre Channel space, Inrange competes with the likes of Brocade and McData, but only McData is producing another director-class product.

List pricing for the FC/9000-128 range from about $200,000 for a 48 port unit to just over $500,000 for a fully configured 128 port unit.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

For more information:

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