RealTime IT News

IP Storage Goes the Transcontinental Distance

In an announcement some analysts say is the Internet-oriented version of the laying of the transcontinental railroads years ago, a host of the industry's top data storage providers Monday announced the industry's first gigabit-speed transcontinental IP storage network.

Spearheaded by San Jose, Calif.'s Nishan Systems, with Adaptec, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Intel, QLogic and Qwest Communications all pitching in hardware and software resources, the "Promontory Project" facilitates coast-to-coast IP storage interoperability at 2.5 gigabits per second on a 10Gbps link. The endeavor's name has significant historical roots; the Promontory Project was named after the location where America's first transcontinental railroad was joined.

On a broad level, the transcontinental network will help IT professionals more efficiently manage storage challenges, such as information overload, rolling power outages, and natural disasters.

Market research firm Aberdeen Group's Dan Tanner said the undertaking is no small accomplishment.

"Any way you look at it, it's a seminal event," Tanner told InternetNews.com. "The amount of traffic that can be transferred could make today's data transfer look like an insignificance. IP is a ubiquitous commodity and this effort is the result of huge cohort of people who understand that."

Tanner said one thing the new network can do will be to help transport data across virtual private networks better than any other kind of transport. He also said the eventual increase of card-level, blade servers for shared storage will result in the need to have that storage replicated remotely.

"Businesses require high levels of protection for their data," said Aamer Latif, president and chief executive officer of Nishan Systems. Enabling services such as long-distance backup, recovery, and mirroring at 1, 2.5, or 10 Gigabits per second provides the highest possible level of data protection and instant access, should disaster strike."

While Fibre Channel, a technology suited for connecting computer servers to shared storage devices and for interconnecting storage controllers and drives, has been the most popular standard, it's been widely-acknowledged by analyst and storage solution proprietors that IP-Over-Storage's (iSCSI) star is on the rise, particularly because of Fibre Channel's lack of compatibility.

iSCSI is used to facilitate and manage storage over long distances and is far more flexible than its fibre-bearing predecessor; iSCSI can be used to transmit data over local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or the Internet and can enable location-independent data storage and retrieval.

The eight participants in the Promontory Project will provide the following: Adaptec, server connectivity; Dell, servers and storage devices; Hitachi Data Systems, Fibre Channel storage devices; IBM IP Storage devices; Intel, server connectivity; Nishan Systems, IP Storage switching; QLogic, server connectivity; and Qwest Communications International Inc., multi-gigabit coast-to-coast IP link and Web hosting facilities.