Is There Enough Fibre and SAN in Your Diet?

Is There Enough Fibre and SAN in Your Diet?

By Dave Simpson


Sensing new revenue possibilities and higher margins, the vendor community is caught up in Fibre Channel fervor. This emerging interface, and the closely related storage area network (SAN) concept, look good on paper, but we wondered whether anybody was actually using this stuff. So we sent John Haystead in search of IT sites that are in pioneering mode (see this month`s cover story, "Who`s Catching the Fibre Channel Wave?").

It seems that early Fibre Channel adopters are those industries--such as video--that absolutely need the speed increase over SCSI. In a few instances, IT managers are going with Fibre Channel for its device connectivity and cable length advantages.

Although Fibre Channel is starting to make inroads into corporations, SANs are still largely a conceptual twinkle in vendors` eyes. IT managers understand the potential benefits of the SAN architecture (some have had the mainframe equivalent for years with the ESCON interconnect), but there are still a lot of pieces missing.

If you`re new to Fibre Channel and the SAN concept, start with the cover story, then Ellen Lary`s "The Future of Storage is Networked," and "Fibre Channel Meets IT Challenges," by Jeff Vogel and Mike Befeler. For an overview of some of the missing pieces, check out Chris Wood`s "It`s Time for a SAN Reality Check." More "technical" readers might want to tackle Wayne Rickard`s "What`s Next for SANs?", which examines the need for a services layer and management tools.

Even our Storage Success Story this month looks at how one (very) large IT organization opted for Fibre Channel to build a high-speed, fault-tolerant storage network.

Our seeming obsession with Fibre Channel may be justified: International Data Corp. predicts that 50% of external storage revenue will be Fibre Channel based by the year 2000. And by that time, storage is expected to account for some 60% of total system costs.

InfoStor will be covering Fibre Channel and SANs on an ongoing basis, and we`d love to hear from companies that have begun implementing the technology. We`re particularly interested in hidden costs and deployment hurdles, including compatibility problems, performance degradation on networks with high node counts, and throughput that falls short of the vaunted 100MBps per loop. Drop us an email, and we`ll follow up.

This article was originally published on May 01, 1998