Brocade Extends the Distance of SANs

Storage switch makers, standards bodies and others are busy trying to solve the problems associated with managing wide-area storage networks.

Storage switch makers, standards bodies and others are busy trying to solve the problems associated with managing wide-area storage networks.

For large enterprises, moving stored data across borders and oceans is a major challenge, especially for time-sensitive applications and utility computing, industry observers say.

In response, switch leader Brocade Communications Systems Inc. is planning to announce Fabric Routing Services, a suite of technologies for routing, bridging and extending the distance of wide-area storage networks.

Fabric Routing Services, which will be rolled out this week at the Storage Networking World show in Orlando, Fla., includes Fibre Channel-to-Fibre Channel routing, iSCSI-to-Fibre Channel bridging and FCIP (Fibre Channel-over-IP) distance extension, said Brocade officials, in San Jose, Calif.

In addition to the physical links and attributes, the Fabric technologies enable customers to create logical private SANs (storage area networks), said Dave Stevens, director of business development at Brocade. Similar to Cisco Systems Inc.s Virtual SAN feature, Brocades Logical SANs are used to partition a SAN and can span distances using FCIP. Unlike Ciscos VSAN, the Brocade LSAN allows data sharing between partitions.

Brocade is also helping users construct wide-area SANs by partnering with Minneapolis-based Computer Network Technology Corp. and LightSand Communications Inc., of Milpitas, Calif.

A large financial software company in England is evaluating the possibility of connecting Brocades switches to LightSands SAN extension technology, said the companys systems administrator, who asked not to be identified. With a SAN in each of two data centers covering approximately 40 terabytes of the former Compaq Computer Corp.s storage, "it was either a case of putting additional SAN skills at those sites or finding a way to remotely manage it," he said. "Weve been trying it for nine months and have been impressed with the equipment. We will also be able to use it to do remote replication" with FCIP, he said.

Fabric Routing Services are available to developers now and will be available to users in the first half of next year, Brocade officials said.

Meanwhile, the Internet Engineering Task Force last week announced the Internet and Management Support for Storage working group, said officials in Carlsbad, Calif. The IMSS group will prepare IPv6 for communications over Fibre Channel.

Despite the trend of making storage technologies work over IP, theres still a need for IP over Fibre Channel for use with SNMP links, IETF officials said. IMSS also serves as Fibre Channels venue for needs such as standardizing management information blocks for domain management and name servers, said task force member Claudio DeSanti, also in San Jose.