Storage Networks Featuring "The Golden Spike"

Nine companies gather up their gear to prove that large and small enterprises can build true storage networks with off-the-shelf equipment. But, only the most distinguished efforts can earn the "Golden Spike."

 By Alex Goldman
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from ISP-Planet

Lately, we've seen so many interoperability demonstrations that we finally had stop covering them, for fear that we'd cover no other topics at all. Granted, compatibility of various vendor's equipment would be a big deal, true interoperability remains in the future—several years down the road.

Then the "Promontory Project" came along.

With its golden spike logo, the initiative is named after the landmark where the transcontinental railroad hooked up—linking the East and West coasts for the first time, ever. The year was 1869 and the place was Promontory Summit, Utah.

Fast forward to today. Now it's September 2001 and a gaggle of vendors claims to have broken ground on a new type of transcontinental railroad—only this time, we can climb on board the interoperability train.

Click for complete diagram in new browser window With equipment and software from Adaptec, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Intel, Nishan Systems, QLogic Corp., and bandwidth from Qwest, the project will attempt—over the next few weeks—to demonstrate the viability of linking multi-vendor network-attached storage (NAS) devices shared storage devices from Storage Area Network (SAN) applications (Diagram left).

The Promontory Project features paired SANs, one on each coast of the U.S., by paired OC-48 (2.488 Gbps) fiber optic lines from Qwest. Among the many best-of-breed devices used in this demonstration are:

  • IBM's IP Storage 200i is an iSCSI appliance that plugs directly into the IP fabric and therefore does not require a fiber channel gateway. The device is compatible with systems that connect a local fiber-based network to an IP backbone, but it can also connect directly to the IP backbone. The iSCSI 200i starts at under $20,000 for 108GB of storage and can hold up to 1.74 TB.
  • The Hitachi Data Systems Lightning 9910 is priced at about $0.30 per MB—with a raw capacity of up to 3.5 TB, that's just over $1 million. The product features a minimum data cache of 1 GB, and can have up to 24 Fiber Channel on Extended Serial Adapter interfaces, or any combination of the two in sets of 4 of each. This refrigerator-sized unit is 70.5 inches high and weighs 1,153 pounds (524 kilograms).
  • The Nishan IP Storage Switch family of units retails from $10,000 to $35,000 per unit. These products come with Nishan software (called Sanvergence) that eases the remote management and monitoring of storage networks.

Over the next few weeks, expect to see demonstrations of cutting edge applications like push broadcasting, real-time data backup, with VERITAS, and automatic data backup and recovery systems.

This article was originally published on Oct 2, 2001
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