SANs to Reach 1,000 Ports and Beyond

IT administrators will see SANs evolve into scales of 512 ports, 1,000 ports and beyond in the next two years.

IT administrators will see SANs evolve into scales of 512 ports, 1,000 ports and beyond in the next two years, according to product planners at a number of storage area network vendors.

The movement is the result of rapid data growth combined with data center consolidations, experts say.

For starters, McData Corp. —which last week announced plans to acquire Sanera Systems Inc. for $102 million and Nishan Systems Inc. for $85 million, as well as invest $6 million in startup Aarohi Communications Inc.—said it now has the parts it needs to expand its director-class switch leadership far beyond the 140 ports of its Intrepid 6140 Director.

The company, by the middle of next year, will relaunch Saneras DS1000 device, at 256 ports, with Fibre Connect for mainframes, officials said.

"A lot of our customers [already] have several SAN islands that can be hundreds and hundreds of ports," said Bob Williamsen, director of advanced development at McData, in Broomfield, Colo. Some would buy more than 256 ports today, but a real market, and thus McDatas products, wont exist until "a couple of years from now," Williamsen said.

McData picked Sanera for scalability, according to Williamsen. "Pretty soon, centralized processing isnt going to give you enough horsepower" to run service-level agreements and multiple virtual fabrics at 512- and 1,000-port scales, he said.

Inrange, the SAN switch division of Computer Network Technology Corp., of Minneapolis, plans to give large switches more port intelligence, application awareness and fault isolation, said Mark Knittel, group vice president of product operations. "The requirement that were working against is clearly to go beyond 256 and into the 512 region, maybe even 1,000, by the end of next year," Knittel said.

Lines in the SAN

Future large-scale switches




256 ports next year, 512 by 2005


256 ports now, 512 next year


300-plus ports now, 512 next year

Startup Maxxan Systems Inc., in San Jose, Calif., has larger switches on its road map and is expecting to have a 512-port product by early next year, Chief Technology Officer Mike Witkowski said.

Bob Massengill runs Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centers SAN, in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Over the next 12 to 24 months, I could see that [well] be up in the 200-to-300-port range," Massengill said. The hospital plans to add 100 to 150 servers next year, as well as possible disk-based backup and off-site replication, he said.