SNW SPRING, PHOENIX, Az., April 14, 2003 - Cisco today introduced three IP storage networking products that will allow customers to cost effectively expand their Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs) to additional servers and applications within data centers and departments across local, metro, and wide area distances.
Specifically, these products are designed to connect to Fibre Channel-attached devices using either the Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) or Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) protocol.
"IP storage networking technologies take advantage of connectivity provided by IP to extend the value and utility of Fibre Channel SANs," said James Opfer, Research VP with Gartner Dataquest. "iSCSI offers very favorable incremental cost for each additional server connected to a SAN, especially for small servers where the cost of Fibre Channel host bus adapters is prohibitive. FCIP is a SAN extension technology that allow users to interconnect SANs well beyond the reach of pure Fibre Channel, making it useful for business continuity applications."
Fibre Channel is the predominant transport protocol used today to connect mainly high-performance servers to storage arrays to form specialized networks known as SANs. iSCSI is the IETF standard protocol that takes advantage of TCP/IP's economies of scale so that users can also consolidate storage from lower-cost, lower-performance servers onto these SANs. FCIP relies on TCP/IP's long-distance reach to enable users to interconnect two or more SANs for business continuance/disaster recovery over metro and wide area networks.
These technologies greatly enhance the multiprotocol functionality of the Cisco storage-networking portfolio, which now offers customers the ability to choose from any combination of Fibre Channel, iSCSI and FCIP technologies to build or expand their SANs. This portfolio can meet the storage networking and price/performance-ratio requirements for companies of virtually any size, making it one of the most comprehensive and versatile sets of products available from any single vendor in the industry today. Along with optical networking, LAN switching, and IP routing products from Cisco, customers can now deploy end-to-end SAN solutions that span from the core of enterprise data centers to remote branch offices.
The new Cisco products are:
- The Cisco MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module, an 8-port line card for the Cisco MDS 9000 Family of Multilayer Directors and Fabric Switches that can support iSCSI and FCIP simultaneously on each Gigabit Ethernet port.
- The FCIP Port Adapter for the Cisco 7200 and Cisco 7400 Series Routers, designed for customers who have already deployed multiple Fibre Channel SANs and need FCIP to interconnect these SANs over long distances securely and reliably. Cisco worked with Adaptec, Inc. to incorporate Adaptec's TCP/IP offload technology onto the Cisco routers (see today's related announcement from Adaptec).
- The Cisco SN 5428-2 Storage Router, an upgrade to the previous version of this departmental/workgroup SAN switch that now offers FCIP capability on the platform's two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which also support iSCSI.
Columbus, Ga.-based TSYS (NSYE: TSS), a global payments processor of more than 253 million credit, debit, commercial, stored value, smart and retail cards, has been testing FCIP connectivity using two Cisco MDS 9216 Multilayer Fabric switches installed with IP Storage Services modules. To meet federal government guidelines for data replication across geographically dispersed sites, TSYS is using IBM Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (PPRC) software over this FCIP link for applications such as data mirroring over extended distances.
"Separating our primary and backup data centers over long distances is the foundation for our business continuity strategy," said Selvin Hollingsworth, director of Network Services at TSYS. "The Cisco FCIP solution offers the required performance and network-design flexibility to ensure continuous access and protection of our business-critical data."
Standards-Based and Third-Party Tested
To meet the strict interoperability demands of storage networking environments, the Cisco IP storage-networking products rely on industry standards and testing with third-party solutions. For iSCSI, Cisco products now run IETF's "proposed standard" version of the protocol, which was ratified in February. For FCIP, Cisco is the first vendor to introduce FCIP products based on the open-standard version that the IETF is considering for ratification. Cisco has also been testing its FCIP products with several data replication and remote copy software from third-party companies for assured interoperability in critical business continuance applications. As Cisco completes joint-testing projects with these vendors, it will announce full interoperability qualifications for specific hardware and software.
Pricing and Availability
The FCIP Port Adapter for the Cisco 7200 and Cisco 7400 series routers and the Cisco SN 5428-2 Storage Router are both available today and are list priced at $9,995 and $11,995, respectively. The Cisco MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module is expected to be available by June of this calendar year.