Have you ever wished the storage networking market would slow down its frantic development of new technology for just a moment, to allow you to make sense of it all? If so, you are not alone.
IT managers have realised you can never have enough storage - whether in a kitchen, a garage or a network. What keeps them awake at night is how to network stored data.
Speculation over which technology will dominate has led to confusion for those who want to implement networked storage but are concerned about investing in a technology that may not prosper. The media is therefore monitoring the strategies of the big players, and the channel is increasingly becoming an education resource for end-users.
One emerging standard under debate is InfiniBand, sometimes mistakenly seen as a competitor to Fibre Channel, the network architecture standard for storage.
InfiniBand is a hot topic. Current PCI and PCI-X specs cannot keep up with the rising speed of data traffic in storage systems and today's faster CPUs. This is leading to bottlenecks at the bus level and a demand for a faster bus architecture.
InfiniBand will replace the parallel bus with a serial architecture. This will separate the bus from the CPU, create a switched I/O system that allows the serial connection to communicate with various host systems, and provide extremely fast, high-bandwidth transport between server and pipes.
The 'killer app' for wide-scale take-up of InfiniBand will be the introduction of 10Gbps Fibre Channel next year. This will exacerbate current bus limitations and fuel demand for efficient bus technology. There is no doubt Fibre Channel will be the main technology at the storage end for a while.
Other emerging technologies, such as iSCSI and Ethernet, will find niches within the storage market according to their individual strengths. ISCSI will be used for long-distance data transfer and storage management because it carries SCSI commands over IP networks.
The channel is crucial for end-users in this complex market. It can shed light on evolving standards and enable its customers to understand which technologies best suit their needs, and how each emerging technology will fit into the storage networking puzzle.
Hendrik Wacker is director of European marketing at JNI
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