IP Steals Spotlight at Storage Show in Phoenix

Many of the country’s largest systems vendors and storage technology
specialists have converged at the Storage
Networking World 2003
event in Phoenix this week to announce new wares,
or demonstrate how their existing products work with vital emerging
standards.

New products introduced

Not surprisingly, many of the new products concern IP-based storage, and
consist of iSCSI (define) offerings and Fibre Channel (define) products. Cisco Systems Monday unveiled three IP storage networking products that will
allow customers to expand their Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs)
to additional servers and applications within data centers across large
distances.

In a demonstration of how major vendors are designing products that
accommodate the two main connectivity standards, Cisco’s MDS 9000 IP Storage
Services Module, FCIP Port Adapter for the Cisco 7200 and Cisco 7400 Series
and SN 5428-2 Storage Router connect to Fibre Channel-attached devices using
the newer iSCSI protocol or mainstay Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) protocol.

Due in June, MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module is an 8-port line card that
can support iSCSI and FCIP on each Gigabit Ethernet port. At $9,995, the
FCIP Port Adapter is geared for customers who have already deployed multiple
Fibre Channel SANs and need FCIP to interconnect these SANs over long
distances. An upgrade, Cisco SN 5428-2 Storage Router offers FCIP capability
on the platform’s two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which also support iSCSI. It
is priced at $11,995.

For San Jose, Calif.’s Cisco, the move is a considerable upgrade to its
storage networking suite because it offers customers the ability to choose
from any combination of Fibre Channel, iSCSI and FCIP technologies to build
or expand their SANs. This choice is something analysts have been stressing
as iSCSI has been finding its way toward maturity.

More broadly, IP storage networking makes it easier and less expensive for
organizations to deploy storage area networks (SANs) for e-mail, database,
disaster recovery, LAN-free backup, consolidation and other storage
applications because it uses standard Ethernet components. IP SANs use
Ethernet components to reduce costs of networked storage.

“IP storage networking technologies take advantage of connectivity provided
by IP to extend the value and utility of Fibre Channel SANs,” said James
Opfer, Research VP with Gartner Dataquest. “iSCSI offers very favorable
incremental cost for each additional server connected to a SAN, especially
for small servers where the cost of Fibre Channel host bus adapters is
prohibitive. FCIP is a SAN extension technology that allow users to
interconnect SANs well beyond the reach of pure Fibre Channel, making it
useful for business continuity applications.”

Frequent Cisco partner Adaptec joined the SNW party Monday, too, releasing what it claims are
the first ASIC-based IP storage networking host bus adapters built on iSCSI.
The Milpitas, Calif. firm’s goal is to help midsize companies migrate from
direct-attached storage to network storage.

The Adaptec iSCSI Adapters 7211C and 7211F feature an Adaptec TCP/IP offload
technology that moves processing of TCP/IP packets out of the operating
system and implements it in hardware on the card to reduce CPU utilization.
The adapters support Windows 2000, Windows NT and Redhat Linux and support
for copper (7211C) and fiber (7211F) media.

With the help of Network Appliance, Adaptec has conducted beta deployments of IP SAN
products for such customers as Trimble, Sandia Labs and the University of
Michigan. The adapters support e-mail, database, CRM and ERP, consolidation,
disaster recovery and LAN-free backup on Windows and Linux platforms.

The ASA-7211C and ASA-7211F retail for $660 and $715, respectively. The
cards are now shipping to distributors and resellers and are under
evaluation by major OEMs.

Also, Adaptec rival QLogic
Monday unveiled 4-gigabit-per-second Fibre Channel products to ease the
industry transition to 10 gigabit architecture.

SNW wouldn’t be right if it didn’t feature a dizzying number of standards
interoperability demonstrations from vendors, their partners and standards
groups, such as the Storage Networking
Industry Association
(SNIA).

SNIA Monday said storage networking vendors of the SNIA Supported Solutions
Forum (SSF) will embark on the largest demonstration of interoperable Fibre
Channel switches at the show this week.

The demonstration will consist of heterogeneous storage area networks (SANs)
built with switches and storage devices from SNIA SSF members including
Cisco, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, INRANGE Technologies, McDATA,
QLogic and Sun Microsystems. The availability of the previewed multivendor
SAN switch products is slated for this summer.

Analysts argue switch interoperability is a key factor in building and
managing heterogeneous SANs because it enables IT staffs to interconnect
devices from different storage vendors within the same fabric. End users
will also be able to build on that by building “edge products” such as IP
storage routers and blade servers that host embedded Fibre Channel switches.

Phil Mills, chairman of the SNIA Supported Solutions Forum, described the
multivendor switch demo is an examples of vendors who have put aside their
competitiveness to work for the good of the customer and the industry.”

While multivendor switching is important, it’s hardly the only demonstration
at SNW. Many industry experts will no doubt anxiously await Storage
Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S, ée Bluefin) demonsrrations
of interoperability from major vendors. Hopkinton, Mass.’s EMC and fellow SNIA members are demonstrating
an infrastructure using the draft of the highly-anticipated SMI-S to achieve
interoperability among some 30 storage management software and storage
hardware products.

As one of the developers behind the complicated standard, EMC has begun to
implement SMI-S into its storage infrastructure and management products.
EMC’s contribution to the demonstration includes early versions of
SMI-compliant EMC Symmetrix DMX and EMC CLARiiON CX series storage systems
and EMC ControlCenter software and VisualSAN management software using the
SMI Provider and SMI Client specifications.

EMC is joined by the likes of Veritas, Brocade, and Hitachi Data Systems in
this endeavor. Veritas will help to define a volume manager for the SMI-S
version 1.1 based on technology from its volume management and
virtualization solution, Veritas Volume Manager. Veritas will work with
other SNIA members to create a specification that will define the software
management structure for host and operating system block-level
virtualization.

Meanwhile, Brocade has collaborated with vendors on a CIM-enabled SAN
infrastructure featuring a SMI-S-compliant version of the Brocade Fabric
Access API. Brocade is also making a developer’s release of the Fabric
Access API to its partners. Based on CIM/WEBM and the original Bluefin
specification, this API will allow Brocade partners to develop SAN
management applications that are compliant with the emerging SMI-S
specification.

HDS is working to use the SMI-S to improve its HiCommand Management
Framework architecture. In addition to working toward interoperability for
Hitachi Freedom Storage systems and Hitachi storage management software,
Hitachi Data Systems is assisting other storage vendors in advancing their
SMI-S support by providing a stable SMI-S interface from which to test their
products.

In related storage news, EMC teamed with LEGATO Systems and Nortel Networks
on a business continuity software item that makes it possible for several
data centers to act as one to keep businesses running. In the case of a
catastrophe, transactions are routed to an alternate site with no need for
manual restore or restart procedures. The announcement is part of a parade
of such products to hit the scene since September 11, 2001. Analysts have
often remarked how desirable business continuity products are for
enterprises.

“Enterprises increasingly need to find ways to integrate storage networks
and crucial business data across the wide area network to support business
continuity, disaster recovery and compliance with government regulations,”
said Jamie Gruener, senior analyst at the Yankee Group.

Gruener said the product from EMC, Legato and Nortel makes the complex
problem of tying multiple SANs (storage area networks) together between
multiple corporate sites easier.

Though relatively new to the enterprise storage game, Microsoft offered a
pot of news Monday as well, announcing that is backing
the IETF’s RADIUS for secure authentication of SANs.

The SNW 2003 conference will play host to a number of other demonstrations
from the aforementioned and additional vendors through Thursday, April 17.

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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