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SAN over IP, part I: 2001-The year of SAN virtualization

Discusses SAN over IP storage relate to budding virtualization strategies.

By Linda Gail Christie

In many organizations, storage is growing at 100% per year. "Traditional methods for adding storage (rolling out a new general-purpose NT or Unix server with an attached storage array, installing a stand-alone RAID or JBOD array, etc.) provide expensive, short-term solutions to the storage problem," said Simon Fok, president & CEO of NetConvergence, an IP storage company. "However, deploying IP-based NAS technology further decentralizes the storage infrastructure and adds to the difficulty and expense of managing storage--which is now approaching $12 per megabyte per year."

According to many SAN proponents, Fibre Channel-based SANs offer a superior means to address this growth in terms of capacity, speed, availability and centralized management. However, proponents of the IP approach, point out that Fibre Channel requires administrators to deploy and manage an entirely separate and expensive network that handles "block data" over a maximum distance of 60 miles (100 kilometers). "Customers want the ability to build seamless, interoperable networks from one data center to another," said Randy Fardal, VP of Marketing for Nishan Systems, an IP storage networking provider. "Using native IP and Gigabit Ethernet to integrate SAN into the enterprise network will reduce administrative headaches and allow data to be stored, accessed, and managed from anywhere across the wide area network using familiar storage-management technology."

"IP networks are becoming the preferred data connection and the most cost effective communications alternative on the planet," said Brian Larsen, Director of product management for CNT, a storage solutions provider. "Yet, IP's 'packet data' approach has been inadequate to handle the quality of service, the data security needs, or the bandwidth on demand needs of storage applications. Now, we've developed the software and equipment that can integrate Fibre Channel SANs with IP and preserve the integrity of data traveling to distant locations. [This software and equipment] can talk intelligently at the network layer to do data flow, management, and recovery."

Stay tuned for our upcoming issues for more on this emerging technology. In "Part II" of "2001: The Year of SAN Virtualization," you'll find out what SANoIP products are available today. You'll also learn about some exciting new solutions debuting in the next few months.

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About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

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