Storage Standard Shakeout

Spectra Logic plans forum to discuss competing specs for tape backup.

The storage industry is awash in standards proposals these days, with more than a half dozen in the works.

Now, a Boulder, Colo., company wants industry leaders to start thinking about a time when one or more of these standards, including Internet SCSI, Direct Access File System, Network Data Management Protocol, Operations System Network, Storage over IP, VI (Virtual Interface) and Jumbo Frames, take hold. More specifically, it wants to know how any of these will affect tape backup.

Tape automation developer Spectra Logic Corp. announced plans late last month for a tape-over-IP forum that will bring together leaders of the various protocol standards.

The goal of the forum, which is to take place late next month in the San Francisco Bay area, will be to discuss and demonstrate backup solutions for all of the protocol standards so that backup technology can be built once these standards begin getting adopted.

Companies such as Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Computer Associates International Inc., Network Appliance Inc., Legato Systems Inc., Seagate Technology Inc. and Vixel Corp. are expected to participate in the forum.

Backup is a primary concern for most customers, who say the disk industry tends to be ahead of the tape industry in adopting new standards.

"The ability for us to cross-connect our backup solutions and across our data centers is important to us as an application infrastructure provider," said Reed Ford, senior vice president of technology at Nupremis Inc., also of Boulder.

"What we are coming up on [in the storage industry] is another quantum leap, or chasm, where it looks like some of these protocols that communicate with storage devices are going to change dramatically. Any time we can get ahead of that is very important."

Spectra Logic and Nupremis are not the only companies positioning themselves for these standards.

Last month, Emulex Corp., a host bus adapter manufacturer, bought Giganet Inc., of Concord, Mass., for $600 million. Emulex, of Costa Mesa, Calif., made the deal because of the development work Giganet has done with Network Appliance on the VI protocol, which is expected to offload the TCP/IP processing overhead.

A week later, Nishan Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., with support from Dell Computer Corp. and EMC Corp., submitted its family of storage networking protocols to the Internet Engineering Task Force. That same week, Network Appliance, of Sunnyvale, Calif., announced it will integrate Troika Networks Inc.s Fibre Channel VI solution into its NetApp filers.