BY DAVE SIMPSON
This month, SANcastle Technologies began shipments of a switch that allows companies to connect Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs) and IP networks such as Gigabit Ethernet. To varying degrees, the switch will compete with switches/routers from vendors such as Cisco, Crossroads, Computer Network Technology (CNT), Entrada, FalconStor, Lucent, Netconver gence, Nishan Systems, and SAN Valley.
The GFS-8 (Global Fabric Switch) is an 8-port, bidirectional, multi-protocol device that enables users to mix Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel ports in 1x7, 2x6, or 4x4 configurations. The switch combines a number of technologies, including what SANcastle refers to as IP tunneling, SAN tunneling, and IP translation. The GFS-8 will eventually be compliant with evolving standards like FCIP, iSCSI, and InfiniBand.
"The GFS-8 integrates multiple, disparate SAN fabrics, WANs, and LANs to create a global data fabric," says Dennis Talluto, vice president of technology strategy and planning at SANcastle, in San Jose, CA. He claims that the switch operates at wire speed.
The GFS-8 switch integrates Fibre Channel SANs and IP networks such as Gigabit Ethernet.
Companies can use the switch in a number of ways. For example, IT managers can connect Fibre Channel SANs over IP networks, or connect IP networks over Fibre Channel backbones. The GFS-8 translates IP so that SANs and LANs can be integrated into one fabric. The switch also supports E_Port for interswitch connectivity between Fibre Channel switches. Another key feature for some applications is the ability to dynamically map VLAN tagging into Fibre Channel zones, enabling users to segregate traffic for management and security without increasing port counts or using redundant infrastructures.
Target applications include content distribution, volume management, and disaster recovery.
The GFS-8 is based on a mesh switch technology with SANcastle's OpenIP architecture and provides guaranteed data delivery and sequencing of Fibre Channel packets over IP networks.
The device is priced from $32,000 to $38,000, depending on the port configuration. In contrast, Cisco's 2-port (one Fibre Channel, one Gigabit Ethernet) SN 5420 Storage Router is priced at $27,000 (see InfoStor, May 2001, p. 1).
SANcastle was founded in 1998 and currently has about 100 employees. The company has received $25 million in two rounds of financing.