Lately, we've seen so many interoperability demonstrations that we finally had stop covering them, for fear that we'd cover no other topics at all. Granted, compatibility of various vendor's equipment would be a big deal, true interoperability remains in the future—several years down the road.
Then the "Promontory Project" came along.
With its golden spike logo, the initiative is named after the landmark where the transcontinental railroad hooked up—linking the East and West coasts for the first time, ever. The year was 1869 and the place was Promontory Summit, Utah.
Fast forward to today. Now it's September 2001 and a gaggle of vendors claims to have broken ground on a new type of transcontinental railroad—only this time, we can climb on board the interoperability train.
With equipment and software from Adaptec, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Intel, Nishan Systems, QLogic Corp., and bandwidth from Qwest, the project will attempt—over the next few weeks—to demonstrate the viability of linking multi-vendor network-attached storage (NAS) devices shared storage devices from Storage Area Network (SAN) applications (Diagram left).
The Promontory Project features paired SANs, one on each coast of the U.S., by paired OC-48 (2.488 Gbps) fiber optic lines from Qwest. Among the many best-of-breed devices used in this demonstration are:
- IBM's IP Storage 200i is an iSCSI appliance that plugs directly into the IP fabric and therefore does not require a fiber channel gateway. The device is compatible with systems that connect a local fiber-based network to an IP backbone, but it can also connect directly to the IP backbone. The iSCSI 200i starts at under $20,000 for 108GB of storage and can hold up to 1.74 TB.
- The Hitachi Data Systems Lightning 9910 is priced at about $0.30 per MB—with a raw capacity of up to 3.5 TB, that's just over $1 million. The product features a minimum data cache of 1 GB, and can have up to 24 Fiber Channel on Extended Serial Adapter interfaces, or any combination of the two in sets of 4 of each. This refrigerator-sized unit is 70.5 inches high and weighs 1,153 pounds (524 kilograms).
- The Nishan IP Storage Switch family of units retails from $10,000 to $35,000 per unit. These products come with Nishan software (called Sanvergence) that eases the remote management and monitoring of storage networks.
Over the next few weeks, expect to see demonstrations of cutting edge applications like push broadcasting, real-time data backup, with VERITAS, and automatic data backup and recovery systems.
Better Prices, Basic Products
Dell is offering astonishing discounts on equipment purchased through its small business division. Its most basic computer, a Dell Dimension 4300 1.5 GHz unit, is priced at $539 and includes a free Palm m100, 20 GB drive, 128 MB of SDRAM, NIC, speakers, or modem and the most basic CD-ROM. Of course, a monitor is extra. Most of Dell's computers are running for $100 off regular prices and include a free Palm m100, plus free ground shipping through September 26th. The bus speed of the 4300 series is 133 MHz, although a slightly more expensive unit, the 8200 series, features a 400 MHz system bus, if you need to significantly speed up operations.
Compaq's basic unit, the Evo D300s, is priced at $849 and comes with sound as well as a 400 MHz Front Side Bus. This deal also includes free shipping through September 30th.
At press time, a similarly featured Gateway computer, the 500S was prices at $859 USD.
Further up-market, IBM's configure-your-own-server offers far fewer options than Dell and Compaq, but offers greater discounts on pricier items. For example, an IBM x220 is offered at a 10 percent discount, currently $3,725.10 with a 1 GHz Pentium III, 384 MB of 133 MHz SDRAM, and other enterprise-level features. Note that some top-of-the-line products feature a 400 MHz system bus.
Signs of the Times
Reacting to market conditions, MagneTek (NYSE: MAG) joined a slew of other companies that intend to buy back company stock. There are about 22.6 million shares outstanding after the company completed a buyback of 10 million shares in July. The transaction was authorized by the board back in 1999. The current buyback is 2.26 million shares—about 10 percent of the remaining outstanding stock. MagneTek manufactures power products used in data centers and storage applications.
In another timely announcement, Standard Networks demonstrated its siLock, a Microsoft Windows 2000-based product that is designed to allow enterprises to securely store and retrieve sensitive data over the Web. The product will be released on October 15, 2001. Pricing is not available at this time, but a free 30-day trial is available.