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Compaq wants return to storage SANity

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Broad hints that Compaq might invest more money in the storage market by buying a company shortly have so far come to nothing, but the company did say today it will spend $6 million on building an Open SAN lab open to all other vendors and at the same time announced a new division called the Storage Software Business Unit. Donal Madden, storage business manager at Compaq UK, said that its Open SAN (storage area networks) initiative will be open to all vendors in a bid to create a worldwide, unified storage area network. "Customers are saying we don't want to be tied into one vendor and would like to see transparency between them," he said. "The next steps are Open SANs supporting applications, file systems, operating systems, server platforms, storage systems and tape libraries," he said. However, while this may suggest to IT managers that in the future all their disparate systems will talk to each other cheerfully, behind the scenes there are evidently big rifts. Market leader EMC is promoting something called the Fibre Channel Alliance, which Madden described as "quite self-serving", and includes a list of vendors. However, EMC, together with Compaq, HP, Sun and IBM are members of the Storage Network Interoperability Association (SNIA). Madden explained that Compaq is funding the $6 million lab and welcomes the other members of SNIA to share efforts. Essential storage facilities such as a zero backup window, which allows IT managers to ensure their systems have no down time, will be made widely available as part of the open initiative. But the happy days when everything talks to each other are likely to be some little way away. Compaq's storage roadmap shows that halcyon period as being in between the middle and the end of next year. Last week, Enrico Pesatori, senior VP in charge of enterprises at Compaq, forecast that its storage business will show 22 per cent growth, year on year. ®

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