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EMC backs Brocade on SAN applications

But demands software standards in the longer term

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EMC is developing volume management software to run on Brocade's SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform (FAP), and in the process declared its intent to push hard for standards in the nascent SAN application platform market.

The SilkWorm FAP is an intelligent Fibre Channel switch that allows storage management applications, to run in the SAN without the need for a separate server. It faces competition from Cisco's MDS9000; InRange and McDATA are also believed to be working on similar devices.

"Some things work best in the network and some will remain in the arrays," said Mike Lewis, EMC CTO. "Network functions are things about distributed information - volume management is the best descriptor for what we'll move into switches."

However, as things stand, software suppliers must develop different versions for each device, as there is no standard API. Lewis said that EMC, which has 60 per cent of the Fibre Channel switch market as a Brocade OEM, will use its weight to get standards accepted here.

"It gives us some say," He said. "We are pushing strongly to ensure API incompatibility is not a problem. We're all about standards, and just as Brocade has announced relationships with our competitors, you should expect that we would look for the same heterogeneity in platforms."

Although there is no public standards effort on fabric APIs, Dave Stevens, Brocade's bizdev director, said it has offered to licence the SilkWorm API for free and will submit it as a possible standard. "Our objective is to broaden the infrastructure. We need to work with a variety of software players." ®

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