By Dave Simpson
Aiming to get a foothold in the nascent market for communications gear that enables companies to link storage area networks (SANs) over IP networks, Entrada Networks plans to ship in the next quarter a transport router dubbed Silverline. Initially, the router will support Fibre Channel, Gigabit Ethernet and WAN interfaces such as T3, ATM and OC-3. The router comes in a fixed configuration with two Fibre Channel ports (with E_Port support), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two WAN ports.
Entrada's router will compete to varying degrees with products from vendors such as Cisco, Computer Network Technology (CNT), Lucent, NetConvergence, Nishan Systems, Pathlight and SAN Valley.
Despite potential competition, analysts expect Entrada to find a spot in the IP storage market. "Entrada offers a relatively low-cost product for mid-range storage-over-IP users," says Steve Duplessie, an analyst with The Enterprise Storage Group. "OEMs will benefit from the flexibility of having Ethernet, Fibre Channel and WAN connections, which will satisfy most of the initial market requirements."
San Diego-based Entrada demonstrated the routers at the recent Comdex show, and has begun beta shipments to a handful of OEMs. The company plans to target OEMs that sell products such as switches/directors, disk array subsystems and networking equipment, as well as storage integrators. The router will be available in a standalone configuration, or as an add-in "blade" that could be integrated into devices such as Fibre Channel directors.
Eventually, Entrada plans to add support for SONET, OC-12, OC-48, iSCSI, and other emerging communications technologies.
The SAN transport routers use tunneling technology to carry Fibre Channel over IP. The technology will eventually be compatible with the IPFC standard under development in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
Expected applications for SAN-over-IP include data replication, backup, disaster recovery, and data distribution.