McData Launches Speedy New SAN Router -

McData Launches Speedy New SAN Router

McData moved to slingshot past rivals Monday, unveiling a router that shuttles data across networks with significant performance and connectivity improvements. The device also has heterogeneous vendor support.

The Eclipse 2640 is a 1U (1.75 inches), 16-port storage area network (SAN) router. Twelve of the ports can be fibre channel or Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) , with the remaining four ports GbE.

The 2640 is a considerable upgrade over the Eclipse 1620, which was rolled out last year. That box, based on technology from McData's acquisition of Nishan Systems, is geared for small businesses and has two GbE and two fibre channel ports.

While the 1620 provided fibre channel distance connectivity and iSCSI aggregation, the 2640 offers distance, iSCSI and total SAN routing, including fibre channel to IP networks. This is different from rivals' routers, which Dougherty said are focused on homogeneous routing.

"[Competitors] don't really route across the network, they do what's called tunneling," said Dougherty. "What true routing means is that we are actively filtering packets and filtering activity that gets propagated from the ingress port to the egress port on the box."

By contrast, Dougherty said routers from competitors "tunnel," a technique that encapsulates fibre channel SAN frames in IP packets for transport to another distant Fibre Channel SAN by tunneling them through an IP network. When they arrive at the second SAN, the fibre channel frames are released from their encapsulation.

The executive said the tunneling technique can propagate things like state change notifications, which are management storms that can occur due to a link instability and adversely impact performance and contribute to latency.

The 2640 also features three layers of performance acceleration to rapidly zip data across the network. For example, a feature called "fast write" enables the 2640 to "spoof" the storage protocol and allow data to stream over extended distances.

Second, a new compression engine can be programmed to propel data. The third layer is that the 2640 terminates the TCP in hardware, providing high-speed performance over the link to span great distances.

As the second generation of routers from the Bloomfield, Colo., company, the Eclipse 2640 is also the first router to work with gear from rivals Cisco Systems and Brocade Communications Systems .

"It has the ability to interconnect McData fibre channel networks with those from Brocade, Cisco and QLogic via one box to serve as the nexus of the network and route data intelligently between multi-vendor fabrics," said Peter Dougherty, vice president of switch platforms at McData.

Such heterogeneity in a storage network has proven to be quite attractive to customers, many of whom have products from different vendors and have challenge getting those products to work together. There is a broad movement afoot in the storage industry among vendors to provide support for disparate platforms.

Available now, the 2640 box costs around $100,000. Actual pricing is based on configurations and the number of features used.

The 2640 arrives a week after Cisco upgraded its MDS 9000 router family. The MDS 9216i fabric switch and the Multiprotocol Services Module, feature Ethernet ports that can support Fibre Channel over IP or iSCSI.

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