Fibre Channel Vendors Push for SAN Interoperability

Vendors of Fibre Channel products are moving to address the lack of standards and interoperability in SAN (storage area network) solutions. Last week, Brocade Communications Systems, a maker of Fibre Channel switches, and Emulex, which makes Fibre Channel Adapters, entered a partnership to drive initiatives and technologies that will enable interoperability in SAN environments. JNI, a provider of Fibre Channel host bus adapters, introduced a SANpartners program also aimed at interoperability.

The Brocade, Emulex alliance calls for the companies to work together on joint technology development, standards initiatives, and SAN interoperability and product support programs to facilitate the deployment of next-generation Fibre Channel-based SAN solutions. Specifically, Brocade and Emulex will collaborate to optimize functionality when Brocade SilkWorm Fibre Channel fabric switches and Emulex LightPulse host bus adapters are combined in heterogeneous SAN environments and applications. The companies also will develop new technologies to enable new SAN capabilities, such as quality of service to allow prioritization of data traffic in a SAN, and network diagnostic collection to facilitate SAN management. In addition, Brocade and Emulex will jointly test and benchmark SAN configurations based on their combined products and will add support personnel trained on Brocade and Emulex SAN configurations.

"As SANs evolve from individual islands of data into mixed vendor, enterprise fabric backbones, connectivity among SAN components is crucial," says Grey Reyes, Brocade's President and CEO. Since the companies together supply Fibre Channel products to some of the industry's largest server and storage vendors (including Amdahl, Compaq, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, NCR, NEC, SGI, StorageTek and Unisys), the move could further accelerate adoption of SANs.

For its SANpartners program, JNI Corporation nabbed a number of high-profile partners, including Ancor, Brocade, Crossroads, Exabyte, Hitachi Data Systems, Legato, LSI Logic Storage Systems, Quantum/ATL, StorageTek and VERITAS. SANpartners, designed to accelerate interoperability and compatibility between JNI Fibre Channel products and multivendor SAN components, is currently open to OEM suppliers of Fibre Channel-based SAN components, including switches/hubs, bridges/routers, storage subsystems, servers and management software. The crux of SANpartners is a printed System Integration Lab (SIL) interoperability report, based on tests for compatibility and interoperability. The program also includes an equipment exchange program, including discounts on JNI products; co-marketing opportunities, such as channel promotions, training and seminars, etc.; and product training and 24-hour priority technical support.

"We have a very…incentive-laden program, offering price breaks, exchange programs and numerous promotional opportunities for our SAN partners members," says Mark Woithe, JNI's Strategic Marketing Manager.