SAN side story
talking about the new SAN technologies, it is time to consider the two siblings
on the blockIP SAN and FC SAN. Here is a look at what 2006 holds on these
fronts. by Sneha Khanna
Fibre Channel SAN has been the forerunner in enterprise storage for block-level
storage access requirements. FC SAN is being widely used in large and
medium enterprises, reveals Vivek Joshi, VP, IT, HDFC Bank.
Director, Storage Virtualisation,
EMC Asia Pacific
Ajaz Munsiff, Director, Storage Virtualisation, EMC Asia Pacific
agrees: 98 percent of SANs today are FC SANs.
Fibre Channel technology has progressed rapidly with the demand for higher performance
levels. There are three kinds of FC SANs available in the market: 1 Gbps, 2
Gbps and the latest. 4 Gbps. Let us now examine the new 4 Gbps entrant, which
will see wide adoption in 2006.
FC Gets Faster
FC SAN has entered the 4 Gbps arena thereby doubling
the speed of the current 2 Gbps standard, says Vaidyanathan Iyer, Country
Manager, Intransa India. The benefits of the new standard include immediate
savings on infrastructure implementation due to the need to purchase fewer ports,
investment protection through backward compatibility, support for longer distances,
and reduced power consumption, he adds.
4 Gbps FC SAN is a good option for companies looking for a new SAN for several
First, there is a marginal price difference between the existing
2 Gbps and 4 Gbps FC SAN. Mario Blandini, Manager,Product Marketing, Brocade
Communications avers, 4 Gbps FC SAN is priced at no more than 10 percent
premium, if not the same or lower than 2 Gbps. However, Munsiff differs:
The overall price difference is going to be 30 to 40 percent.
FC SAN is popular in data centres where there is a need
for high-speed data replication and 4 Gbps adoption will take off here.
The problem with a full adoption of the technology is that all the components
(front and back end) have to be 4 Gbps-compliant
Notwithstanding varied views, the biggest factor in favour
of 4 Gbps FC SANs is speed. It is a twofold increase in speed compared to 2
The benefits of the 4 Gbps standard include immediate
savings on infrastructure implementation due to the need to purchase fewer
ports, investment protection through backward compatibility, support for
longer distances, and reduced power consumption
Then there is compatibility. The 4 Gbps FC SAN is able to
talk to the earlier 2 Gbps FC SAN version. This means that existing 2 Gbps users
can use both technologies together.
The 2006 Perspective
The future for 4 Gbps FC SAN is bright according to market players. Iyer predicts,
Over the next six to 18 months, the entire industry will gradually make
the shift to a 4 Gbps FC storage infrastructure. FC SAN is popular in
data centres where there is a need for high-speed data replication and 4 Gbps
adoption will take off here.
4 Gbps FC SAN has been in the market for over a year now.
However, there are problems with a full adoption of the technology as all the
components (front and back end) have to be 4 Gbps-compliant.
Munsiff explains, There are some 4 Gbps arrays in the market but it is
only for the front end. The hardware in the storage box still needs to be 4
Gbps. Slowly vendors will come out with 4 Gbps drives.
Winner In The Making
Manager, Product Marketing,
IP SAN (Internet Protocol Storage Area Network) uses TCP/IP
for its operation. This enables a machine to connect to a remote dedicated server
using the iSCSI protocol and perform block I/O on it using local hard disks.
iSCSI was officially ratified on February 11, 2003 by Internet Engineering Task
IP SAN has been the buzzword in the market for quite some time now and industry
is adopting it.
Let us look at the reasons why IP SAN is expected to be popular.
As IP SAN runs on the existing LAN and hardware, setting it up is cheap. Munsiff
explains, The Indian market appreciates IP SANs because of the lower cost.
For IP most companies already have a LAN, while to deploy a FC SAN you need
to deploy a new network using fibre channel in addition to LAN.
IP SAN works on Ethernet, which is well understood, so there is no need for
extra technical staff. Obviously many tools, management packages and features
are widely available on IP. As IP is the widest-used protocol in any IT infrastructure,
IP SAN will gain early acceptance, says Joshi.
Blandini concurs, IP SAN eliminates the cost of host bus adapter and management.
A typical IP SAN can be connected to another network
even across long distances since it uses IP technology. IP SANs are becoming
popular with mid-sized companies and at disaster recovery sites. IP SAN
is most likely to dominate the market for companies requiring low-end
storage and cheaper solutions.
Moreover, a typical IP SAN can be connected to another network
even across long distances since it uses IP technology.
IP SANs are becoming popular with mid-sized companies and at disaster recovery
sites. IP SAN is most likely to dominate the market for companies requiring
low storage and/or cheaper solutions.
Says Sanjay Kharade, Principal Consultant, Cisco Systems, India and SAARC, IP
SAN is typically cold storage where the older and less critical
data is normally migrated on IP SAN. He adds, IP SAN will only be
used where less critical applications are required. This could be in a start-up
or for complementary enterprise storage in a large bank or telecom company.
Heading For The Future
According to Joshi, BFSI and services sector will need SANs the most. IP
SANs will be used where the security and convenience of IP is of prime importance.
When speed is the only criterion, 4 Gbps FC SANs will be used. IP overheads
can degrade the performance of SAN to some extent, Joshi concedes.
IP SAN appears to be more popular with the medium segment whereas FC SAN seems
to be a favourite with large enterprises. These two technologies also seem to
complement each other: FC SAN at the front end for critical applications and
IP SAN for Disaster Recovery. Overall, both these technologies should flourish