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

Covers more on SAN over IP storage and virtualization.

By Linda Gail Christie

SAN adoption is being hindered by a clear gap in SAN software functionality, according to "Storage Networks: On the Road to Virtual Consolidation," a storage networking study based on a survey of 300 large organizations conducted by ITCentrix, a developer of IT decision support solutions. "The technology lacks appropriate volume and fabric management capabilities, is deficient in exploiting dynamic workload management, and lacks many interoperability features," said David Floyer, Vice President of Research for ITCentrix. "Those companies delivering software functionality that directly provides business value to customers will likely fare well."

To that end, many companies are releasing new hardware and software solutions that will allow SAN to be deployed over Internet Protocol (IP) networks and managed by storage management packages that are both mature and familiar. The cost benefits of SAN over IP are quite significant. "With SAN over IP, you don't have to change your model," said Brian Larsen, director of Product Management for CNT, a storage solutions provider. "You can leverage everything you have today: network infrastructure, bandwidth, methodologies, staff, and training -- without having to deploy and maintain a separate and expensive Fibre Channel network."

CNT, for example, states that its SAN over IP capability allows business-critical SAN applications -- such as asynchronous data replication and remote tape vaulting for data backup -- to operate on existing IP networks, providing an Intranet and Extranet infrastructure that can span campus, metropolitan, and long-haul networks. "We've designed a solution that is capable of handling the quality of service, the data security needs, and the bandwidth on demand needs heretofore not supported by IP technology," Larsen said. "Now you can use your favorite storage management software, such as Tivoli to manage your SANs." By the end of 2000, Nishan Systems, an IP storage networking provider, plans to roll out its new, native Storage over IP -- SoIP(TM) -- solution. "Our solution will allow companies to build seamless networks from one data center to another, all running at Gigabit speed, ten times faster than tunneling approaches," said Randy Fardal, VP of Marketing for Nishan Systems. "You'll be able to function just like you're in the data center: Choose multiple paths, instantaneously reroute around a failed link, and prioritize traffic--giving higher priority to mirroring traffic over tape backup traffic, for example, instead of dealing with SAN tunneling where everything has the same priority."

As additional SAN over IP solutions are released next year, storage managers will have more and more cost-effective options for improving their storage infrastructure without sacrificing familiar IP storage management solutions, protocols, and interfaces.

Additional resources:

About the author: Linda Gail Christie is a frequent writer of searchStorage's storage management tips. Christie is a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

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