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Move to put standards in fabric APIs gains momentum

What is FAIS? According to Data Mobility Group's John Webster FAIS may be the most interesting thing in storage today. Read what it is and how it may affect your SAN.

Ask John Webster, Co-Founder and Senior Analyst, Data Mobility Group, what's the most interesting thing happening in storage these days and he doesn't pause for a second -- FAIS, he answers. While he admits to still stumbling over the full name of the acronym, the Fabric Application Interface Standard, he says flatly, "this could be most significant thing to happen to storage networking since the invention of the switch."

Webster explains the effort to build FAIS, now in the hands of ANSI's International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Technical Committee T11, Task Group T11.5, began a few months ago when Brocade offered its Xpath as the basis for a standard that could define a set of standard functions in any device that could be called by a management application. The functions would "live" in a switch or switching environment, Webster explains, and could be called in a standard way by any management applications operating with any device. "There's a pretty long list of neat things you could do with this," he adds.

Task Group T11.5 has been assigned the project of developing the standard, which will include a technical evaluation of proposals from Brocade and other storage networking companies, ranging from giant Cisco to smaller players like Incipient and iVivity. The standard is anticipated to be released in the middle of 2004. Brocade says its XPath technology was specifically designed to support applications running in the storage area network (SAN) fabric and integrates storage networking technology with a mix of general and purpose-optimized processor technology.

"This will facilitate the migration of applications to the storage network by independent software vendors and allow customers a wider choice and increased flexibility in selecting their storage infrastructure," says Webster.

Webster, who is publishing a report on FAIS this month says the working group is only in "phase 1" at the moment. "They seem to agree there are some standard ways in which things should be done," he says. "I think it is partially a question of refining what those standard ways are and then determining how long it should take to work out the details," says Webster.

In a statement, Mike Klayko, Brocade Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Support, explained, "Industry standards benefit the customer by encouraging a wider choice of products, helping drive down the cost, and providing peace of mind that things will work together."

And, added Webster, "This project is a real sleeper."

For more information:

News article: Cisco releases API for MDS 9000 switches

Tip: Storage area management, part 1: Supporting open management standards

Targeted search results: FAIS

  • Alan Earls often writes about things NAS and SAN the "SAN/NAS Update: Trends" column. View the latest
  • About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

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