SNIA Group Gains New Components

Supported Solutions Forum includes tape storage and host bus adapters.

Tape storage and host bus adapters are the newest technology components to become part of the Storage Networking Industry Associations Supported Solutions Forum.

However, on the horizon is interoperability between NAS (network-attached storage) and storage over IP.

The forum, which six months ago unveiled its first offerings from storage vendors Compaq Computer Corp., EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Inc. and IBM and from switch makers Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp., announced its newest supported solution last month.

It uses Compaq and IBM servers and storage; IBMs Tivoli backup and recovery functions; host bus adapters from Emulex Corp., JNI Corp. and QLogic Corp.; and a Brocade fabric switch.

But its the NAS/iSCSI interoperability that is the next big thing for the forum, said Michael Harrison, director of business alliances for IBM storage. "One of the logical follow-ons for us to be focused on is the interconnectivity and interoperability between SANs [storage area networks] and NAS. Theres a general agreement in the industry for both to coexist. In fact, customers are going to demand it," said Harrison, in Armonk, N.Y.

That functionality should be ready in about six months, Harrison said. There are two issues holding up the development. The first is making gateways where SCSI, Fibre Channel and Enterprise Systems Connection connectors share data headers, trailers and block compressions with NAS file servers. The second is making management software that handles both SAN blocks and NAS files. Harrison declined to say who the participating NAS vendors will be, but major NAS players already in SNIAs forum include Compaq, EMC and Network Appliance Inc.

End users, while aware that vendors sometimes place their own interests ahead of the industrys, are optimistic about the forums work.

"It definitely matters. Its going to be nice when these guys start standardizing," said Alexander Rusich, president of LiveOffice Corp., in Torrance, Calif.

LiveOffice, which sells Web-based IT services, runs about 4 terabytes of storage on IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. systems, with a Brocade switch and an Advanced Digital Information Corp. tape unit. Multivendor certified solutions, Rusich said, are "all going to meld into one, anyway. Do I really expect its going to come out in six months and work off the bat? Probably not. But I do believe over the next year, this is going to be a great investment."