New Switches Cut Costs Of SANs

3ware offers alternative to fibre channel SANs; Crossroads integrates disparate networks

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 10, 2001

2 Min Read

The benefits of networked storage are becoming well-known, but providing fast access to data stored anywhere in an enterprise can be costly. But now, two vendors have introduced low-cost storage switches designed to make networked storage more affordable.

Startup vendor 3ware Inc. last week signed its 50th customer for its storage switches. The vendor's Palisade 100 and Palisade 400 switches move data across an IP network using the iSCSI specification, a standard still being finalized by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Brian Haymore, a senior system engineer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and a Palisade customer, knows he's taking a chance by using an unfinished standard but says the IP storage switch lets him take advantage of existing expertise and infrastructure for the storage network. The alternative is a costly Fibre Channel network that's foreign to most network administrators.

The university used Fibre Channel storage area networks from two vendors, but they were expensive and didn't work well, Haymore says. The school now is installing a SAN based on two AMD two-way servers, for about $3,000 each, and eight Palisade 400 switches, priced at about $2,400 each. "We'll have a Web server so professors can collaborate on projects outside of these grounds," Haymore says. "We expect to have a 10-terabyte SAN within a year, and we'll add Palisade switches as we need them."

While 3ware provides an alternative to Fibre Channel SANs, Crossroads Systems Inc. is helping customers integrate disparate infrastructures. The vendor unveiled the Crossroads 8000 switch last week, which lets customers transfer data between Fibre Channel, IP, and Infiniband networks. The switch, with a base price of $18,500, will also let users easily back up data from Fibre Channel SANs to tape libraries, which was difficult in the past.

Crossroads' multiprotocol switch could help clear up the "alphabet soup of connectivity" resulting from various storage-networking protocols, says International Data Corp. analyst Robert Amatruda. It should help IT administrators, he adds, "ascertain how every component on the SAN is doing."

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