The end of storage Balkanisation was proclaimed earlier this week at the Storage Networking Worldconference.
The buzz here centres on interoperability laboratories and how hardware vendors have committed themselves to making storage-area networking (SAN) products that can exist in different computing environments. High-level executives from EMC, IBM and Compaq have promised their machinery will function alongside that of their competitors and with a wide range of servers and operating systems.
"I think the interoperability challenges of the late 90s will be a thing of the past," said Greg Reyes, president of Brocade Communications Systems.
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and Compaq have announced they have broken ground in Colorado Springs on what will be the largest independent storage network on the planet.
The idea is to create a testing facility that will help developers achieve a truly open SAN infrastructure.
"It's not just about one box or one switch. ... You have to make sure your network is extensible across thousands of devices," Reyes said.
Larry Krantz, senior technologist at EMC and chairman of the SNIA, said customers are forcing vendors into commonality and standards as they begin to shop for products that can meet their exploding storage needs.
"They don't want to see big vendors fight anymore," he said. "Customers want stuff that works together. They want to create a network and then upgrade it piece by piece. It has to come."
Senior vice president of IBM's storage group Linda Sanford said, "The promise of true storage networking is at the data-sharing level across any platform or across any operating system."
Reyes said hardware vendors are phasing out the traditional connectivity links between storage and servers and have begun to fully support Fibre Channel, a SAN protocol that increases connectivity over the traditional SCSI protocol.
Reyes said hundreds of software applications are being developed to take advantage of a standards-driven underlying infrastructure, which should help make the dense and complicated world of SAN management far more streamlined and simple.