Network bandwidth limitations and ongoing management costs are expected to propel a boom in the storage area network (SAN) market, and StorageTek is bracing itself for a share of the action.
So far SANs, - which house dedicated storage applications in a mini-network connected to the organisation's main LAN or WAN - have not taken off in the market. That is partly because the Fibre Channel technology, which has provided the impetus for the development of SANs, has been slow to overtake SCSI in the marketplace.
But Joan Wrabetz, vice president and general manager of StorageTek's Network Systems Group, argues the benefits derived from moving storage applications away from the main network extend beyond just freeing up bandwidth for other applications.
Wrabetz claims SANs also lower the cost of managing storage on a long-term basis by enabling systems to be upgraded more easily at two-year intervals, rather than the three to five year terms of standard application servers.
Administration is also simpler, Wrabetz claims, citing the ability to add more capacity without migrating users and clients to new servers as an example.
"This is the same path we went down before with servers," Wrabetz said.
But if the management benefits are not sufficient to woo network administrators, StorageTek is covering its bases with the introduction of two new additions in its StorageNet family of products designed to ease the development of SANs.
StorageTek's new Fibre Channel switch provides reliable access from single or clustered servers to multiple storage devices and enables users to separate tape libraries from disk sub-systems on distinct loops. In what company officials claim is an industry-first, the new StorageTek Fibre Channel Switch 4000 features a translative mode allowing fabric-attached servers to access private loop drives.
Meanwhile, the StorageNet Access Hub is a multi-loop hub that supports up to 16 concurrent, full bandwidth 100MBps Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loops (FC-ALs), and enables administrators to reconfigure the storage network under software control. Company officials claim the system can also store and implement multiple configurations to adapt the SAN to predictable shifts in storage demand.
To augment its direct sales force, StorageTek is looking for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) to sell its new StorageNet products. The Fibre Channel Switch 4000 is priced at $74,000, fully configured, while the StorageNet Access Hub is priced at $26,009 for a basic configuration.