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IP Storage - Standards linking IP and FC together

One company offers a set of standards for interoperability between IP and Fibre Channel-based SAN technology.

IP Storage - Standards linking IP and FC together

Alan Earls

In an "open" world, everyone loves standards. It makes products sound safe and friendly and helps loosen purse strings when the sales pitch comes. One recent standards announcement came from Nishan Systems, when the company announced that it had submitted a group of specifications for storage networking protocols to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

The proposed protocols provide interoperability between IP and Fibre Channel-based SAN technology, and complement other proposed IP storage technologies, such as iSCSI and FCIP. Two of the submitted protocols, iSNS and iFCP, are being proposed to become part of a specifications suite within the Internet Protocol Storage (IPS) Working Group.

More than 20 leading computer, storage software, and data networking vendors voiced their support for these efforts, including industry giants Dell, EMC, IBM, Nortel Networks, and VERITAS. Other storage industry leaders also voiced their support of Nishan's efforts in the IP Storage specifications arena. These included: ATL, ADIC, BakBone Software, BMC, Chaparral, DataCore, Emulex, Eurologic, JNI, Legato, QLogic, Quantum, Seek Systems, Spectra Logic, StorageNetworks, Sun Microsystems, and XIOtech.

Despite the diversity and competitiveness of the "group of 20," kudos were even offered. For instance, Russell Holt, vice president and general manager of Dell Storage Systems Group, said, "We are very excited... and are supportive of Nishan's specifications for standard IP SANs... because, once available in products, we believe it will lead to simpler SAN interoperability."

However, Tony Prigmore, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, in Milford, Mass., offers a more cautious but positive assessment. He explains that standards alone don't create value for the end customer, and that value sometimes comes from de facto standards. Still, he says, "If Nishan's proposal leads to an improvement in interoperability for end users by breaking down the disparate 'islands' of storage technology that enterprises currently have to manage, then we see no logical reason it shouldn't succeed."

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

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