IP Storage Gets Second Wind With Products, Standardization

Vendors such as QLogic and Atto are readying IP storage products.

Despite promising lower cost and easier configuration, IP storage has had difficulty gaining a foothold in the enterprise. But the tide may be turning as vendors such as QLogic Corp. and others ready IP-based options that ease the transition to the fledgling protocol.

The products tread where others, notably Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM, have stumbled. Ciscos IP-based SN 5428 router, released in May, has won over few storage users, and IBMs TotalStorage 200i, announced last year, has met with tepid response, analysts say.

Today, with technology standardizing and Ethernet getting faster, products such as QLogics could prove more attractive to users, industry sources say.

At Comdex in Las Vegas this week, QLogic will launch four IP-enabled host-bus adapters, plus new management software. "Our strategy has been to allow people to make incremental changes," said Graeme Plant, QLogics director of product management, in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

The new adapters for Ethernet are the SANblade QLA3010 and the SANblade QLA3040, which has support for IP Security. Versions for iSCSI are the SANblade QLA4010 and the SANblade QLA4040, which also has IPSec support.

QLogics road map next year involves upgrading to IP Version 6, offering multiport adapters and paralleling Ethernets rise into 10G-bps versions, Plant said.

Meanwhile, Atto Technology Inc., a smaller competitor, will launch its own IP storage product at Comdex. IPBridge is a gateway between Gigabit Ethernet and SCSI hardware. Due in January, it will cost about $4,500, said officials, in Amherst, N.Y.

Big companies may use IP storage for backup and WAN transfers, but smaller companies will adopt it sooner for primary storage, said Arun Taneja, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

Akhbar Tajudeen, director of IT for teen-oriented online retailer Alloy Inc., in New York, fits in the latter category. "I think itll eventually get there," Tajudeen said of IP storage. "It was on a checklist of things to look for" when Alloy purchased FalconStor Software Inc.s IPStor management suite, he said.