SNW: New storage protocols gain supporters

The Fibre Channel protocol’s reign as the only high-speed storage protocol is now being challenged. At the Storage Networking World (SNW) conference in Phoenix, iSCSI, Serial ATA (SATA), and Serial attached SCSI (SAS) are seeing their share of vendor support and legitimizing much of the hype that have followed these “other” high-speed protocols.

On Tuesday at SNW, more vendors announced products or plans for future products with support for the aforementioned protocols. Cisco Systems Inc. joins Network Appliance Inc., Adaptec Inc., Microsoft Corp., and a slew of start-ups in supporting iSCSI; while Intel Corp. and Emulex Corp. announced plans to develop storage processors that that run SATA, SAS, and Fibre Channel.

Cisco announced that in June it will ship a module dubbed IP Storage Services for its MDS 9000 fabric switch. The module is an eight-port line card that can simultaneously run both iSCSI and FCIP, another IP-based protocol that defines how Fibre Channel traffic can run over an IP network.

At a press conference here at SNW, Intel and Emulex announced their combined intentions to develop storage processors that run the use two of the new serial storage system interfaces: SATA and SAS. The two protocols move data in a single stream, and do so up to 30 times faster than parallel protocols such as SCSI and ATA.

In spite of the support of many vendors, iSCSI has yet to find its way into the embrace of Fibre Channel-based array vendors such as IBM, EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., or Hitachi Data Systems Corp. To date only a very few vendors are shipping iSCSI-based arrays. SATA and SAS, however, have found their way into the plans of several disk and subsystem developers.

Additionally Cisco introduced a FCIP port adapter that incorporates Adaptec’s TCP/IP offload technology into a Cisco’s 7200 and 7400 series routers.