Hardware Today: SANs for the Common Man Page 2

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

If everything is whizzing along and the various devices and applications can't talk to one another, the need for speed is moot. So another big push in storage is interoperability. SAN specs, such as SMI-S from the Storage Networking Industry Association, are helping to reduce the complexity in storage management.

HP, Hitachi Data Systems, Cisco, McData, and Computer Associates (CA) are among the vendors behind this spec. They are also coming out with their own software suites to ease the storage management burden.

"There is an increasing level of customer interest in tools to manage the SAN infrastructure and the data that it contains," said Eric Pitcher, CA's BrightStor director.

"Expect both protocols to continue for several years before one or the other gives way. There is no reason why FC shops should migrate to iSCSI or vice versa ... " — Mike Karp, Enterprise Management Associates

CA sells a series of BrightStor Storage Management products that have the capability to provision storage across multiple operating system and hardware infrastructure platforms to eliminate console hopping between the various vendor-supplied tools. McData's SANavigator provides modules that monitor asset utilization in multivendor environments and historical reporting of transport usage. Other advanced SAN tools from Cisco, McData, and Brocade make it easier to link SANs together. With this comes greater security, ease of management, and greater heterogeneity

"We are clearly seeing greater support of heterogeneous storage environments," said Natalya Yezhkova, a storage systems analyst at IDC. "This is being driven by end users who are increasingly struggling with more complex management of data centers with storage systems from multiple vendors."

iSCSI's Year

iSCSI, the big trend of 2004, will continue to rule the storage roost in the coming year. Does this signal the beginning of the end for the mainstream FC vendors? Hardly. They have already shown their flexibility by embracing IP SAN technology and selling it better than specialist iSCSI vendors. And FC revenue continues to dwarf those for IP SANs.

"Expect both protocols to continue for several years before one or the other gives way," said Karp. "There is no reason why FC shops should migrate to iSCSI or vice versa. The important thing is that companies now have more choice, and that will continue to drive prices down."

This article was originally published on Feb 28, 2005
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