3Com introduces high-speed storage network

3Com Corp.’s StorageConnect family, announced this month, joins an emerging market
for storage area networks, or SANs.

A Fibre Channel SAN works behind a LAN, connecting external storage devices to servers.
The most common external storage configuration at present is a SCSI connection between a
storage device and a single server. SAN will make a high-speed link among multiple servers
and multiple storage devices, in effect creating a virtual data pool.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company’s StorageConnect suite consists of a PCI Fibre
Channel adapter for servers running Microsoft Windows NT, Unix or Novell NetWare, plus a
hub and a switch.

The SAN market already has Fibre Channel equipment made by several server and storage

3Com hopes to get a leg up on the competition by partnering with three other companies
on SAN products for LAN-free backup, high-availability RAID and data consolidation.

The SAN market is driven by the growth in the volume of data being stored, a shift to
external storage and growing demands for access, said Joe Ammirato, director of marketing
at 3Com. He said analysts predict the SAN market will grow to $1.5 billion by 2002.

Switched Fibre Channel storage can operate at up to 100 Mbps, compared with top rates
of 40 Mbps to 80 Mbps for SCSI. SCSI connections can extend for about 25 meters between
storage node and server, whereas Fibre Channel can go up to 2 kilometers over multimode
fiber, or up to 10 kilometers over single-mode fiber.

3Com is working with the Clariion Advanced Storage Division of Data General Corp. of
Westborough, Mass., on a high-availability RAID product combining StorageConnect managed
hubs and Fibre Channel adapters with Clariion’s FC5000 Fibre Channel arrays,
Navisphere storage management software and failover software.

A LAN-free backup product will put StorageConnect hubs and adapters together with RAID
arrays from MTI Technology Corp. of Anaheim, Calif., and tape libraries and data
protection applications from Legato Systems Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. The goal is
mission-critical data backup without affecting LAN performance.

The data consolidation product will use StorageConnect with MTI’s StorageWare JBOD
(just a bunch of disks) and Gladiator RAID arrays for high-capacity sharing by multiple
open servers.

StorageConnect is scheduled for release early next year as the first phase of a
four-phase strategy. The second phase will integrate 3Com’s Transcend network
management into the StorageConnect line, probably late next year. The third phase will
scale SAN connectivity to 3Com LAN and WAN products, and the fourth phase will make
storage systems conform to network policies.

Contact 3Com at 800-638-32663.  

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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