Storage vendors bolster net connections

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SAN JOSE -- Storage-area network vendors last week took the wraps off a variety of products that advance Fibre Channel technology and help fill gaps in today's SAN products.

The introductions made at the Fibre Channel Technology Conference included switches that will let users connect Gigabit Ethernet or ATM networks to Fibre Channel or SCSI connections. Also unveiled were switches aimed at helping small to midsize businesses implement SANs.

More than 1,500 people visited with 85 storage vendors at the show, which is the largest Fibre Channel show in the U.S. Interoperability was the show's focus, and many vendors introduced products and stressed their efforts to make their products interoperate with those of their competitors.

Among the companies rolling out new SAN products were Storage Area Networks (SAN) Ltd., Brocade Communications and Ancor.

SAN Ltd. launched a gateway for joining Gigabit Ethernet and ATM networks to SANs for local or long-distance links. The DiskLink FC connects SCSI or Fibre Channel devices to OC-12 ATM or Gigabit Ethernet networks. Most Fibre Channel routers today use transfer data from legacy SCSI devices to Fibre Channel-based storage devices. SAN Ltd.'s gateway is one of the first to link the LAN or WAN closely to the storage network, allowing for data transmission over wider distances.

Previously, the DiskLink FC transferred data at ATM speeds up to 155M bit/sec. The new model supports transmission speeds up to 622M bit/sec, as well as Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FCAL) and Ultra2 SCSI connections. In addition, SAN Ltd. has added a browser interface, support for SNMP and a 10/100M bit/sec connection so users can manage the unit remotely. The DiskLink FC will be available in January for $15,000.

Brocade is adding three entry-level switches. The company, which is focused on large switched fabric SANs, will now target smaller SAN implementations or expanding installations.

Via a software upgrade, Brocade's switches can be used in switched fabric environments, thus boosting their longevity and use in changing environments.

The company's new switches are the SilkWorm 2010, 2040 and 2050. These eight-port switches have seven fixed-media ports and a Gigabit Ethernet Converter (GBIC) for attachment to fiber-optic cable.

Each switch allows LAN-free backup, server consolidation, remote data mirroring and high-availability options. The switches will be available in the first quarter of next year.

The SilkWorm 2010 is a switch for FCAL environments that can connect all ports to a single loop and offer full bandwidth per port. The 2040 is a small fabric switch, which can be upgraded to full-fabric capability.

The 2050 is a self-healing, full-fabric switch that can be cascaded with other switches and can perform rerouting in the event of a failure. Pricing for Brocade SilkWorm switches start at about $5,800.

Ancor debuted four low- and high-end Fibre Channel switches. Dubbed SANbox, the switches include eight-, 16- and 64-port models, and an upgradable eight-port switch for small SANs. The eight- and 16-port switches are shipping now. The 64-port Fibre Channel Director will ship early next year.

The Fibre Channel Director includes hot-swappable modules, power supplies, fans and port connectors. The 16-port switch optionally offers two redundant power supplies. Each switch can be configured to fit in an FCAL, point-to-point or cascaded, switched environment.

Pricing for Ancor's eight-port full-fabric switch starts at about $15,000, the 16-port model starts at $40,000, and the 64-port Director switch starts at $250,000.

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