Beaverton, ORE. — The Internet, eCommerce, the move to an on-line world, and the creation of “virtual enterprises” where multiple companies share information, are the drivers behind the storage explosion of 70 to 100% increases per year. The rapid rise of Storage Area Networks (SANs) are a direct result of the need to provide storage infrastructure and manageability for this growth.
SANs connect the vast storage farms with multiple computer systems. Key issues in this trend are the ability to scale growth of these storage networks, ensure mission-critical levels of availability (known as “five 9s” availability), manage the systems and storage effectively, and migrate older storage and hosts to this infrastructure. According to a recent poll, users are seeking larger, simpler, more reliable implementations of the switching infrastructure of the storage networks through a new class of device known as the SAN Director.
In a June 2000 poll of corporate users, conducted by Dragon Slayer Consulting, over 90% of the respondents indicated that once they pass 32 interconnected devices in a storage network (the number that can be connected using two smaller 16-port switches), management aspects of multiple interconnected switches present business risks. These include management of the connections between switches, performance of inter-switch links, and load balancing management resources. Additionally, users need to ensure redundant, high-availability links between the switches.
“When building storage networks, users face a `loosely coupled’ versus `tightly coupled’ decision, not unlike multiple small servers compared to one large multiprocessor,” states Marc Staimer of Dragon Slayer Consulting. “If it’s truly distributed, with little or no interaction, and the organization can tolerate reduced availability, smaller switches are a logical and economic choice. When users have a large storage farm that is addressing common systems with common workload, and reduced availability is never acceptable, Director-class infrastructure is required.”
The emergence of storage network Directors is a response to this growing concern. Information from Dataquest released earlier this year indicated that the storage network Director market will grow in excess of 200% this year alone, with the total storage networking market spanning switches and directors expected to reach $2.3B by 2003. Recent market introductions from vendors include INRANGE Technologies with a 64-port director and McData with a 32-port director. Both companies have registered S-1 filings with the SEC this quarter.