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Global roaming from HCL InfiNet

HCL InfiNet has launched global Internet roaming services through its partnership with iPass. iPass global roaming solution allows the user to access the Internet in over 150 countries without having to make long distance calls.

With businesses spanning the globe, people have to travel very often. And they may be in transit from one country to another all the time. To access personal, business e-mail accounts, news and other services over the Internet, the user usually has to make a long distance call to connect to the ISP. With iPass you can access the Internet through more than 14,000 POPs (Points Of Presence) worldwide.

The logic behind the service is similar to that of a cellular model where the customer is able to access other cellular providers when they leave their service area. The iPass service encrypts user names and passwords with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology as they pass over the Internet. This provides security for users. iPass has multiple access points in business centers and operates multiple servers in key geographical locations. The iPass service is enabled through the iPassConnect client software. You need to use only one user ID and password and maintain one account with the ISP.

Microsoft releases Visual J#.NET beta

Microsoft has released the beta of Visual J#.NET. It is a development tool for Java language developers to build applications and services on the Microsoft .NET Framework.

According to the company, Visual J#.NET provides an easy transition for Java developers into the world of XML-based Web services. It can also improve interoperability of Java programs with existing software written in variety of other programming languages. It also enables Microsoft Visual J++ customers and other Java-language programmers to take advantage of existing investments in skills and code while fully exploiting the Microsoft platform.

The beta includes technology that enables customers to migrate Java investments to the .NET Framework. Existing applications developed with Visual J++ can be easily modified to execute on the .NET Framework and interoperate with other .NET languages and applications. It incorporates new .NET functionality like ASP.NET, ADO.NET and Windows Forms. Developers can use it to create entirely new .NET applications.

Visual J#.NET provides programming tools support through its integration with Visual Studio.NET integrated development environment. It integrates completely with the .NET framework and takes advantage of its features. The software includes tools to automatically upgrade and convert existing Visual J++ 6.0 projects and solutions to the new Visual Studio .NET format. These tools help ensure that an existing Visual J++ 6.0 developer can easily move to Visual J#.NET and produce .NET applications and components.

iSCSI gets vendor support

iSCSI, a new standard for networks of storage devices has made its way out of the prototype stage. Vendors like Cisco, IBM, and Nishan Systems have iSCSI-enabled some of its products. iSCSI, joins storage devices and servers with networks built with the IP (Internet protocol), which is a common protocol, instead of faster but more expensive and complicated Fiber Channel technology.

Cisco will announce upgrades to its SN 5420 networking product, which links servers to storage devices using iSCSI. The upgrade allows the SN 5420 to communicate with tape drives as well as hard disk systems. Nishan Systems, will introduce a new top-end switch to join IP and Fiber Channel networks. The company's product line tops out with an eight-port switch, but its new product called IPS 4000 will have 16 connections.

Storage Switching Tracks?

Intel's Infiniband may set the SAN stage of the future and pull the carpet from under the feet of the other storage network protocol wannabes, like Fibre Channel (FC) or even the much hyped iSCSI.

Intel's Infiniband initiative is a high speed interconnect that replaces the PCI bus on the motherboard, and it allows for the scaling of compute elements by clustering CPU, memory, and I/O in a meshed fabric environment.

Jack Cuthbert, Brocade's vice president, worldwide sales, marketing and support, said that Infiniband will do for servers what FC does for storage. "It's like the virtualization of compute power," he said. The potential here is that FC switches that support Infiniband will allow servers to be clustered using the same high speed FC fabric. "End users will be able to use the SAN to manage both storage and servers. This will take transaction traffic off the normal LAN," he said.

The catch is that whether you are taking about FC or SCSI, they are all basically I/O protocols as well. Thus, if the compute element's fabric can link with the fabric that manages data storage and access, it potentially creates an architecture that will be massively scalable. This could be one reason why major storage switch vendors like Brocade place determined attention on Infiniband. And it is unlikely that they are doing so to simply try to get into the server clustering market.

However, for the time being, Infiniband is just another protocol that storage switches may have on their support list.

In the absence of well-established ratified protocols and interoperability standards, building a SAN fabric today is still a single vendor option. Standards, such as the ANSI FC-SW2 that defines multi-vendor FC switch interoperability, do exist, but it is still only on a transport level, said Michael Le, senior director of marketing for Dot Hill Asia Pacific, an FC RAID system specialist. "The standards allow for traffic interoperability, but you still can't manage across multi-vendor switches," said Le.

Still Single
Prashant Dholakia, senior vice president of availability products for Veritas, said that there is much progress in bandwidth but little in interoperability as vendors largely support configurations with their own products only. However, he said that several new startups are working on such products that support multi-protocols.

"Supporting multiple protocols has already started to happen and is a key requirement to support the variety of installations currently deployed," said Dholakia. Thus, creating multi-protocol storage switches that can be flash-upgraded as standards evolve is the "hedge bet" route that many vendors are taking.

For example, Nishan's IP-based multi-protocol switches integrate GbE, MPLS, FC, and SCSI, as well as their own SoIP (storage-over-IP) technology. This allows users to link both FC and SCSI-based storage to GbE backbones and eventually across Ethernet-based MANs and WANs.

These switches will act like any-to-any gateways and offer a high degree of flexibility in terms of where and how they can be deployed in a storage architecture.

Using the IP transport layer is, perhaps, the most sought after and proprietary part of the solution, which includes protocols that do FC over IP. This is because being able to move block data over the IP solves the 10 km distance limitation of FC, allowing SANs to be linked via public or private IP networks.

IP: The Long Run Key
Brocade's latest SilkWorm switch, for example, supports protocols including, iSCSI, Infiniband, and Fibre Connection (FICON), which is a FC to mainframe connectivity protocol, as well as their own FC-IP conversion protocol.

Another protocol with potential is Nishan Systems' SoIP initiative. One of the protocols that SoIP uses is the Internet FC protocol (iFCP) for IP-based FC storage networking. A notable endorsement of Nishan's technology is that it is part of Dell's storage strategy. Simon Penny, Dell's storage marketing director for Asia Pacific and China, said that iFCP is an alternative to lower layer FC.

"With iFCP, you can use an IP switch to do FC to IP conversion," he said. Further, iFCP supports standard HBAs on servers and FC storage systems. However, most of these native IP-based FC solutions are still now in the development stage. "Merging Ethernet and FC technology is not easy but that's the direction we are moving in," said Penny.

Protocol's like iSCSI will address this by moving storage over IP natively, but it may be years before the standards are set and new iSCSI HBAs become available.

David Chin is the editor of Network Magazine-Asian Edition.He can be reached at david_chin@cmpasia.com.sg

NOW ISP with NEW Skies Satellites

NOW ISP has entered into an agreement with New Skies Satellites, the global satellite communications company for IPsys satellite-delivered access to the Internet backbone. The contract was signed between New Skies and Data Access, which is the company that offers NOW service in India. Through the alliance Data Access will lease bandwidth on New Skies' NSS-703 satellite to provide NOW ISP customers seamless connectivity to the Internet.

The deal adds an additional 48 Mbps to NOW's existing capacity and allows for additional routes for traffic management on the NOW-Gate multi-homing platform. IPsys will create a direct connection from the Internet backbone to an ISP's local service point using a high-speed DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) or SCPC (Single Channel Per Carrier)/Frame Relay connections. NOW will operate both modes of transport for its IP data traffic, SCPC/Frame Relay and DVB.

Multi-homing satellite links will enable ISP's to offer customers one-hop connections from the global Internet backbone, thus reducing latency, or delays, and IP packet loss. The IPsys service makes use of direct peering with Tier 1 Internet backbone providers for more direct and robust connections.

Sun Microsystems increases market share

Sun Microsystems, with a 42 percent market share in Unix servers, was the only vendor to show a four percent growth in its market share in the second quarter of this year. All of Sun's competitors-IBM, Compaq, Dell and HP-showed a decline from the first quarter 2001 to second quarter 2001.

According to IDC Q2CY01 Server Tracker report, Sun's total server shipments including all operating systems increased by 5.5 percent from Q1 to Q2 which is more than any other server vendor featured in the top five. Sun continues to be the leader in the Unix server space for the seventeenth consecutive quarter.

Sun maintained its number one position with US $ 362 million and 39 percent market share in revenue, while gaining one point in market share at 64 percent in shipments. With 76,675 units sold, Sun workstation shipments outpace HP and IBM (ranking two and three respectively) by a margin of five to one.

i-flex and Fujitsu partners in Asia-Pacific

i-flex solutions limited has announced partnership with Fujitsu Systems Business Ltd of Thailand to launch a range of financial solutions for financial services customers in Thailand and Asia-Pacific. Fujitsu, who provides IT hardware, software solutions and services for the financial services industry, and supplies ATM (Automated Teller Machines) worldwide, will now offer i-flex's FLEXCUBE series. FLEXCUBE is a banking solution that supports delivery of integrated services and information across banking channels.

Adieu PGP

Network Associates has announced that it will dissolve its PGP Security division. NAI said it will look for a buyer for its PGP desktop encryption and Gauntlet firewall product lines.

PGP VPN, PGPfire for corporate users and the PGP E-Business Server will be branded and sold as McAfee products, the company said. The CyberCop vulnerability assessment tool will continue to be available as a stand-alone product. This technology will also be integrated into the Sniffer product line.

The company will continue to maintain and support PGP desktop encryption and the Gauntlet product lines until it finds a buyer for these technologies. Network Associates said it expects the moves to save $50 million over the next year.

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