3Com has identified storage area networks as a key new business and will team its networking technology with products from three storage partners.
The partners are Data General unit Clariion and MTI on the hardware side, and Legato for data back-up software. These will provide the technology for phase one of 3Com's ambitious four-stage San strategy, which it labels "plumbing and partners".
A San allows data to be stored, moved and shared anywhere round a network transparently, and managed as a single system. Tasks such as back-up and recovery are offloaded from the Lan and servers to be done on the San.
"Many companies are talking about Sans but they haven't got broad partnerships covering the network and the software as well as the storage," claimed a 3Com representative.
The networking company claims its offerings will make it simpler for Sans to be created using existing corporate networks. Phase one of its roadmap focuses on the physical network and movement of data between different storage devices.
Clariion will provide disk arrays and storage management tools, MTI will offer disk and tape drives, and Legato will focus on back-up software. A key challenge is backing up data without affecting network traffic or access times.
Phase two of 3Com's strategy, which may involve additional partners, will cover network management tools for Sans. Phase three will look to integrate Lans, Wans and Sans so that the approach to data used within a storage network can be extended across the whole infrastructure.
Phase four, scheduled for 2000-2001, will look at advanced San services.
3Com believes revenue from Sans based on Fibre Channel - the primary storage interface standard in this market - will reach $1.5 billion by 2002.
Also eyeing this sector is Compaq, which yesterday announced a Fibre Channel cluster for superfast back-up on a San.
The product falls into the Storageworks range it acquired with Digital Equipment, and is the result of two years' development. It claims to reach a back-up rate of 36Gbytes per hour and support 1Tbyte of storage.
It allows three tape libraries to be clustered together with Fibre Channel tape controllers. The speed of these allows parallel back-ups to be carried out in all the tape drives, without overstretching the network.
As well as the three Model 35/70 DLT 15 libraries, the San back-up solution consists of a host adapter, Fibre Channel loop, storage hub and back-up software.
Compaq said a typical configuration would range in price between $80,000 and $180,000.
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