Dell will deliver the first products in its storage area network project this week, but rivals are hot on the company's heels.
A storage area network is a storage facility that can be shared between several different servers without placing an additional burden on the corporate LAN.
Dell claims to have all the necessary hardware, software and services to build a fully operational fibre optics-based SAN.
Up to four Dell NT servers can be connected with up to 500m of short-wave fibre cable to PowerVault 50F fibre channel switch, developed with Brocade's technology. An additional 500m of cable will link to a PowerVault 650, dual raid storage box, based on the newly announced Clariion 9Gb and 18Gb fibre channel disks.
The fibre channel storage is linked to PowerVault 35F SCSI to fibre channel bridge, which will link with up to four DLT tape libraries (both based on StorageTek technology) with a maximum throughput of 900Gb per hour.
Microsoft helped Dell avoid the problem of parallel servers writing over another's data on the same storage disk by developing Dell OpenManage Storage Consolidation Software, which will be included in Windows 2000.
IBM is also planning a major push into the SAN market.
"IBM has had SANs for the mainframe since 1991," claimed Phil Norman, storage consultant at IBM Storage Systems Division. Now the company is bringing that technology to open systems.
Like Dell, IBM will also announce fibre channel bridges; intelligent raid storage system with fibre adaptors; and a SAN gateway so users can plug into traditional storage systems. IBM will also announce fibre channel hubs and intends to introduce switches later in the year.
Unlike Dell, IBM will use long wave optical fibre, which will cover distances of up to 10Km (rather than 1Km). IBM will support both Unix and NT.
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