Mount Laurel, N.J. — INRANGE Technologies, a leader in high-end, scalable storage networking solutions, unveiled a three-point technology plan for its enterprise-class IN-VSN FC/9000 Fibre Channel Director family that will extend its existing leadership position in scale, performance, and enterprise integration capabilities. The new technology roadmap, which begins product shipments next quarter, quadruples the port capacity of the FC/9000 from 64 to 128 to 256 ports in 2001, adds support for next-generation 2 Gigabit SAN infrastructures, and integrates Fibre Channel over WAN connectivity into FC/9000 solutions to enable seamless SAN extension.
Architected to enable the world’s largest and most mission-critical Storage Area Networks (SANs), the FC/9000 is designed to grow as technology continues to advance. Key to the scalability and performance enhancements planned for the FC/9000 is its proprietary Extensible Core Architecture (XCA) – storage networking technology that can deliver any-to-any, non-blocking switching while minimizing switching latency, or delay. Even as ports are added to the director, up to a full 256 user ports, latency is kept to an industry-leading sub-3 microsecond level. This is in direct contrast to commodity switching solutions using simple `crosspoint’ or `switch fabric’ architectures, which suffer potential performance degradation as ports are added.
As SANs continue to increase in size, the demand escalates for SAN switching solutions that can grow to a larger scale. The FC/9000 currently shipping in 64-port configurations is planned for availability in 128-port models beginning in February 2001, with general availability planned for March 2001. FC/9000 models supporting 256 ports are planned for availability in the fourth quarter of 2001. Through the unique XCA design, systems may be expanded from base models through full 256 port configurations via field- upgrades that require no disruptive “forklift” upgrades, thereby protecting user investments.
As the trend for larger SAN rollouts continues, INRANGE’s scalable director technology will become the optimum choice of users who must not only achieve 99.999% network uptime but who require a mega-bandwidth infrastructure capable of centrally managing storage-server connectivity across heterogeneous environments. The IN-VSN architecture enables the FC/9000s to serve as backbones for SANs that scale to over seven million nodes in the future, spanning up to 100 kilometers between SAN links.
“Large storage networks require un-throttled performance, complete redundancy, and a simple management structure,” stated Robert Gray, Research Director for Storage Systems at IDC. “INRANGE’s new product meets these needs in a platform of common connections and extensible architecture that scales for the future.”
The new scalable FC/9000 enhancements planned for 2001 will be available through INRANGE’s direct sales and service organization worldwide, as well as through distribution channels such as IBM. As announced in October, IBM will resell the FC/9000 director for the new IBM eServer zSeries 900 FICON networks as well as Open Systems Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks, with general availability of the 64-port FC/9000 director set for December 8, 2000.
“The FC/9000 will play an important role in allowing us to build scalable storage networks that grow seamlessly with our customers,” said Duane Dueker, IBM Vice President of SANs, Storage Systems Group. “This has always been important in our core S/390 customer base, and is rapidly becoming a key requirement in our growing open systems market.”
Complementing its initiative to deliver the industry’s most scalable SAN infrastructure technology, INRANGE announced that it plans to support 2 Gigabit technology beginning in the second quarter of 2001 for its FC/9000 line of fibre channel switching solutions, encompassing directors and edge switches. Users who migrate to 2 Gigabit SAN infrastructures will experience no drop-off in performance or access to data, no matter which FC/9000 form factor – from 8 to 256 ports – they deploy in their SAN. All FC/9000 directors will continue to provide non-blocked, low latency switching, enabling any server access to any storage system, at any time. Other technology approaches, which achieve scalability for SANs through inter-linking or cabling smaller switch fabrics, result in latency delays ranging from 2 to 3 times greater than the performance assured by INRANGE’s XCA.
“The partnership with INRANGE combines QLogic’s recently announced 2 Gigabit Fibre Channel technology building blocks with INRANGE’s proprietary XCA technology to deliver an FC/9000 with the capability of supporting 256 ports,” noted Mark Edwards, Senior Vice President of QLogic Corporation. “This provides an incredible 512 Gigabit backbone on which to centrally manage the enterprise SAN, and moves users closer to realizing the promise of storage networks. Because of the unique scalability of the XCA design, the FC/9000’s consistent performance is guaranteed. There are no `hops’ across fabrics, and no latency tolls to pay for the user who requires greater connectivity.”
“INRANGE is in tune with SAN market requirements of expanded scalability and connectivity,” noted Carl Greiner, Vice President-Director of META Group. “Traditionally, large fabrics have been built through inter-switch links or schemes that rely solely on cabling between switches and directors, which lowers port count. Users wish to build truly extensible storage area networks on a scalable core director infrastructure best suited for optimizing bandwidth and distance.”
Through its IN-VSN family of Virtual Storage Networking solutions, of which the FC/9000 Director is the cornerstone, INRANGE has pioneered the concept of virtual storage networks – the capability to internetwork SANs across dispersed locations, using fiber optic and network-based channel extension technologies.
In 2001, the company plans to continue the evolution of virtual storage networking by adding Fibre Channel-over-WAN functionality to the FC/9000 family of solutions. In the second quarter of 2001, INRANGE plans to offer a modular unit that interfaces to the FC/9000 and transports outbound Fibre Channel traffic over the wide area network to another director or edge switch. In the fourth quarter of 2001, INRANGE plans to have WAN connectivity embedded in the FC/9000 architecture as an Extended Distance port, providing direct Fibre Channel-to-WAN conversion for use in extended distance SAN applications.
These deliverables build on INRANGE’s leadership position in providing SAN extension solutions that both overcome distance limitations and deliver mega- bandwidth capabilities for communication between SANs, and across the extended campus or metro area network (MAN). The company recently announced new Extended Credit Addressing Facility (XCAF) technology for the FC/9000, which allows any number of the FC/9000’s 64 ports to support SAN devices and backbone connections over 100 kilometer distances simultaneously, without performance degradation. XCAF technology will be fully supported for 128 and 256 port FC/9000 Directors as well. The XCAF technology is immediately useable with DWDM offerings in the enterprise space, to enable storage networks across campus and MANs.