Feeds

McDATA sets out its virtual stall

Programmable switches will virtualise in hardware

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

McDATA has revealed its plans for hybrid out-of-band SAN virtualisation, combining programmable intelligent switches with an external control engine.

This separates the control path from the data path, says McDATA senior marketing manager Chris Ilg. Most data then goes straight through the switch at high speed, whereas the appliance approach favoured by the likes of DataCore, FalconStor and IBM requires all traffic to be processed by a Linux or Windows 2000 server along the way.

Ilg says that McDATA's 'fast path' technology will come to market in the second half of 2004 in two forms: a blade to upgrade directors by adding fast pathing to existing Fibre Channel ports, and within a new version of the Sphereon 4500 fabric switch.

Both will feature an ASIC-based acceleration engine within the data path, plus an API that allows software developers to program the intelligent switch via a separate control engine. The control engine loads mapping tables into the switch, for example to mirror or migrate data, and also handles errors and exceptions.

"Once you've set it up, the control server fades into the background. You could lose it and still run, but we'd never recommend that because there is always some interaction when an unrecognised frame comes by," Ilg says.

"Each fast path can support from 20 to 40 ports depending on the application mix, and you can mix and match fast and normal ports in a switch depending on your needs. In a director you would always start with two fast path blades, because they'd be clustered for redundancy."

The hybrid path has already been trodden by a few others, most notably HP in its blend of the ex-Compaq VersaStor technology with the CASA virtualisation device it acquired from Storage Appliance and the Rhapsody switches that it buys in from Brocade.

The difference, says Ilg, is that McDATA's version will be open: the company has no plans to sell control servers or applications, instead relying on third parties for these. He demonstrated a prototype running data migration software from Incipient.

He adds that ultimately there will have to be a standard API for intelligent switches of this kind. "Right now it's not happening but eventually it will be mandatory," he says. "We are in the very early stages of talking about it in the ANSI T11 committee, but it's probably 18-24 months before we even see version 1.

"The standard will have to be driven by the application vendors because software porting is such a lengthy business for them. I think they do have the muscle to do this because many of them are storage vendors themselves - IBM, HDS and EMC all have big plans for software." ®

Related stories

Cisco switch price cuts a bad sign - Analyst
Brocade gets big backing for new software
Brocade feeds analyst dirt on Cisco switch

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
Intel teaches Oracle how to become the latest and greatest Xeon Whisperer
E7-8895 v2 chips are best of the bunch, and with firmware-unlocked speed control
Gartner: To the right, to the right – biz sync firms who've won in a box to the right...
Magic quadrant: Top marks for, er, completeness of vision, EMC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.