Storing Power? Promontory Project Sets IP Storage Record

One month to the day after the heralded IP storage data transmission project took flight, the gaggle of firms behind the Promontory
Project said Wednesday that they have managed to transmit data at a peak throughput of 215 megabytes-per-second (mbps) and a
sustained throughput of over 200mbps between Sunnyvale, Calif., and Newark, N.J.


Using the Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP), the project members, which include Dell Computer Corp.,
Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Nishan Systems, QLogic and Qwest Communications
International Inc., completed the transcontinental exchange over a single gigabit Ethernet port on a pair of IP
routers connected by OC-48 (2.5Gbps) wireless area network (WAN) links.


Moreover, the project members also said also they managed to successfully mirror a terabyte of data
coast to coast, proof that online remote replication is possible vis-à-vis IP storage.


The IP Storage protocol, Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP), is used to integrate Fibre Channel end systems with IP networks and
the firms behind Promontory are providing the servers, Fibre Channel host bus adapters, Fibre Channel storage devices and IP Storage
switches. IP Storage switches provide the wire-speed conversion between Fibre Channel and IP.


The first phase of the Promontory Project
demonstrated that multiple ports on a storage switch could process IP storage data from Fibre Channel and iSCSI end systems at a rate sufficient to saturate the
OC-48 channels on an OC-192 (10Gbps) coast-to-coast WAN link.


But Wednesday’s second phase is more trying. It demonstrated how a pair of storage switches, linked by a single transcontinental
full-duplex gigabit Ethernet connection, may convert between Fibre Channel and native IP Storage data at wire speed (215Mbps),
simultaneously in both directions.


“When we submitted iFCP to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), we knew that it would support sustained wire-speed throughput
across standard IP networks,” said Franco Travostino, IETF technical coordinator for iFCP. “Today’s announcement showcases a
real-world demonstration of iFCP’s capabilities over extraordinary distances.”


While the Promontory Project’s is, overall, good news for the industry, the firms involved in its infancy stand to benefit. For
instance, in HDS’s case, the high-end storage provider now has evidence that its Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 server may transfer
data at high speed over IP networks.


And Dell, a Johnny-come-lately to enterprise storage compared to Compaq Computer Corp. and EMC Corp.,
has included high-speed data switches in its software and peripherals business.

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