Focus on Fibre Channel

Posted on November 01, 1999

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Focus on Fibre Channel

Dave Simpson

Editor-in-Chief

This year wasn`t the Year of the SAN (that`ll be next year), but it`s clear that many organizations are moving from the planning stages to the implementation phases of SAN deployment. As such, InfoStor is redoubling its efforts to provide end users and storage integrators with information about Fibre Channel, the key enabling technology behind SANs.

This issue has a number of feature articles exploring Fibre Channel SANs. For example, Mike Kane`s "How to share storage devices in a SAN" outlines various methods for controlling access in either homogeneous NT environments or heterogeneous Unix/NT environments. The dominant approaches include RAID-based LUN mapping via controller firmware, fabric zoning with switches, and host-based mapping, which can be accomplished with host bus adapters. These approaches can be used independently or in conjunction. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Ed Soltis` "Key implementation issues for SANs" will give you insight into whether or not a storage network makes sense for your applications. The article also provides tips on what you`ll need to build a SAN, including key software considerations.

"Bridging private and public Fibre Channel loops," by Larry Olson, looks at one way to combine the two types of loops. Felix Diaz` "SANs and WANs converge into SWANs" introduces another nifty acronym, while explaining how storage area networks and wide area networks can be combined to provide an enterprise-wide solution. And Steve Richardson`s "Exploiting SAN-based tape backup" covers the benefits of including tape libraries in a SAN by taking advantage of LAN-free and server-less backup.

Last month, we reviewed (and recommended) Tom Clark`s "Designing Storage Area Networks: A Practical Reference for Implementing Fibre Channel SANs" (Addison-Wesley Publishing). Since then, we`ve heard about a number of other references for your Fibre Channel Library:

•"The Complete Guide to Data Storage Technologies for Network-centric Computing," by Franklyn E. Dailey Jr. (Computer Technology Research Corp.)

•"The Holy Grail of Data Storage Management," by Jon William Toigo (Prentice Hall)

•"Fibre Channel for Mass Storage," by Ralph H. Thornburgh (Prentice Hall)

Also in this issue

In our news and analysis section (see p.1), we commence coverage of a trend that may shake up the entire storage industry over the next few years: storage outsourcing. Vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, StorageTek, and StorageNetworks Inc. have recently signed deals with telecommunications vendors, ISPs, and ASPs to provide so-called "storage utilities" that provide "data tones." The terminology is silly (equating storage with water or electricity is a tad absurd), but the trend promises to take off rapidly next year.

At press time, a number of industry analysts were putting the finishing touches on major reports covering storage outsourcing. Next month, we`ll report on those findings.

However, there are still a number of technology and business hurdles to clear before storage outsourcing becomes commonplace, a lot of which have to do with pricing structures and the issue of who owns--or controls--the data. What do you think: Is there a strong need for storage outsourcing, or is this just an attempt by a few vendors to garner increased revenues through high-margin services? If you have an opinion, drop me a line at daves@pennwell.com.


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