Long Live SCSI!

Long Live SCSI!

Dave Simpson


There`s been a lot of talk recently about storage-area networks (SANs). The discussions often center on Fibre Channel, as though it`s the only interface for building a SAN. It`s not.

For an introduction to this emerging architecture, we tapped the SAN Man himself--Michael Peterson, president of Strategic Research and the Storage Networking Industry Association. In his cover report this month, Mike points out that SANs can be architected with a variety of interfaces, including ESCON (if you`ve still got some big iron brontosauruses in your data center), IBM`s Serial Storage Architecture (if you`re True Blue), HIPPI (for supercomputer environments), Fibre Channel, or SCSI.

But, you say, parallel SCSI has relatively low performance, it`s limited to short cable distances, and it`s not particularly fault tolerant. Not true. GigaLabs last month introduced a SCSI switch that promises to provide most of the benefits of Fibre Channel--which means you won`t have to chuck your existing SCSI gear.

GigaLabs president Kon Leong argues that there are a lot of parallels between the ATM-Ethernet situation and the Fibre Channel-SCSI conundrum. Leong predicts that, like Ethernet, SCSI will win out, at least in the short term. (GigaLabs` SCSI switch will support Fibre Channel in the third quarter.)

What do you think? Can SCSI take us into the era of SANs, or are new interfaces such as Fibre Channel necessary? Send your opinions to daves@pennwell.com.

Regardless of how you implement them, SANs are an emerging architecture that you should be considering if you`re faced with I/O bottlenecks or constrained by short cable distances between hosts and storage devices. For a complete rundown of the benefits that SANs--as well as network-attached storage, or NAS--can bring to enterprise storage, see Mike Peterson`s "Introducing Storage Area Networks." Then check out Vance McCarthy`s "The Network is the Storage," and the Opinion pieces that close the issue.

InfoStor `98: Mastering Storage Solutions

There`s only a few weeks left before the InfoStor `98 conference and exhibit (March 3-5, in San Jose), which runs in conjunction with the Contingency Planning and Management show. For a brief outline of the session topics, see our show preview in this issue. For more details, call Kathy Fitchett at (603) 891-9342. A registration form is included in our show preview, or you can register online at www.infostor.com. See you there!

This article was originally published on February 01, 1998