In another sign that IP technology is beginning to find its way into the world of storage networking, McData Corp. at Comdex demonstrated a forthcoming blade that moves IP traffic at line rate from its FC (Fiber Channel)-based director-class switch.

The new blade, dubbed IP Blade, is able to move both FCIP (Fiber Channel over IP) and iSCSI traffic — IP-based storage networking technologies being developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)– and will be available in the second half of next year, said Bob Williamsen, senior director of strategic marketing for the Broomfield, Col.-based company.

Williamsen envisions McData customers purchasing the blade to reap cost-saving benefits associated with utilizing its existing director switch and using existing IP infrastructures to move storage data over long distances.

“FCIP provides WAN connectivity at a low cost,” said Williamsen. “FC has a distance limitation and DWDM [Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing] is expensive to do business continuity over distances.”

He explained that the blade will fit in the company’s 6000 series of Intrepid directors and will simultaneously deliver both FCIP and iSCSI traffic when it is released next year.

Williamsen sees companies initially using the blade to do disaster recovery and remote mirroring functions between IP-based SANs, but also for aggregating iSCSI-based servers within the datacenter.

Also at the show, McData will demonstrate interoperability between its Intrepid directors and Brocade Communications Systems Inc.’s FC switches, the latest security features of SANtegrity, and its new Sphereon 4500 switch with its FlexPort technology that permits storage administrators to turn on built-in ports as capacity needs grow.