Storage area networks: Why and how?

Posted on May 01, 2001

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The vast majority of you have not yet implemented a storage area network (SAN), but many of you are evaluating the technology and may take the plunge within the next year. If you're still fuzzy on the potential business benefits of SANs, read the Special Report in this issue (see p. 23), which profiles several early adopters.

All of the early adopters of SANs based their infrastructures on Fibre Channel, which has been the only way to go. But if your SAN rollout is scheduled for the future, you'll have an interesting choice to make: Fibre Channel or Ethernet/IP? This is by far the most debated topic in the storage industry today.

We're framing the debate this month with a "Point/Counterpoint" approach in our Features section. The lead paragraphs of these two articles set the stage:

"Today, there is a major debate occurring in the storage, networking, and computer industries over whether Fibre Channel or Gigabit Ethernet is destined to rule the SAN market. Fibre Channel is seemingly the only viable option today, but the SCSI-over-IP community claims Gigabit Ethernet will soon challenge Fibre Channel-some going so far as to predict Fibre Channel's eventual demise." (See "Ethernet SANs: Panacea or fantasy?", p. 30.)

"One of the hottest debates in the storage industry is raging about whether Fibre Channel will survive against IP/Ethernet storage and the emerging iSCSI standard. But many of the debaters seem unaware that we've been here before..." (See "Fibre Channel vs. Ethernet/iSCSI: Déjà vu," p. 42.)

Both authors seem to make their case with cogent and persuasive arguments, yet they come to different conclusions. Although they agree on many issues, one author predicts the eventual hegemony of IP SANs, while the other predicts a continuing reign of Fibre Channel.

Well-known author Marc Farley (Building Storage Networks) also weighs in on this burning subject in this month's Q&A. (See "SAN, NAS, and virtualization," p. 60.)

It's an interesting debate, with serious implications for those of you who have yet to implement a storage network.

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Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief

SAN Summits at PC Expo

At the PC Expo and TECHXNY shows next month in New York City, Creative Expos and Conferences will host the third annual on June 25 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Topics to be covered include load balancing, Storage over IP, SAN/NAS convergence, and Fibre Channel. The Summits will also address management issues, including using storage and application service providers and identifying and calculating storage ROI.

For more information, call (508) 660-7099 or visit www.creative-expos.com/summit.


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