Even though a standard is still at least a year away, storage vendors continue to roll out products that offer storage-over-IP capabilities.
This summer, IBM will jump into the storage-over-IP fray with a new disk array. Big Blues announcement last week comes just weeks after another company, Nishan Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., said it had several switches and a management software package available that incorporate the iSCSI standard.
The iSCSI standard for transferring storage data over IP networks is under development by such companies as IBM, Nishan and Cisco Systems Inc. and is working its way through the Internet Engineering Task Force.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., intends to release its low-end TotalStorage IP Storage 200i disk array, priced at about $20,000, with RAID 5 capabilities. The 200i initially will have a transfer rate of 1G bps but will move to 10G bps when Ethernet moves to that speed.
The device, which is intended for workgroups and departments, scales up to only 1.7 terabytes, but IBM officials said thats because they want to get a product to market before this technology—and its standards—fully take hold. The 200i will be generally available by the end of June.
Going forward, storage vendors must address several problems with transporting data storage over an IP network before it becomes the connection of choice among customers: specifically, making IP more reliable and efficient enough as a protocol to handle the robust task of data storage.
Companies such as Worldspan LP, a global reservations company based in Atlanta, have performed some storage tasks, such as backup, via an IP network.
"But its not extensive, and it is something that is internal," said Neil Buckley, Worldspans vice president of computer communications.
The company has not yet implemented a full-blown SAN (storage area network). Buckley said Worldspan probably will adopt a Fibre Channel network for SAN data storage moved internally.
Buckley said he would consider moving over IP only storage data that is not time-sensitive and puts no demand on throughput. Ultimately, he said, IP is not as fast as Fibre Channel, "at least, not yet. We have not experimented with any of [IBMs or Nishans] products yet. Im kind of open to it. Im sure they each have their pros and cons."