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IP Storage Spec Shapes Up

The The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is making progress toward IP-based storage networks.

The proposed standard is a big deal for the storage industry. Making current storage protocols compatible with IP (Internet protocol) will drive the use of storage-area networks (SANs) across long distances. Such efforts would likely open up the storage market and make it a top application for the high-bandwidth services being created by optical technology.

An interim meeting this week in Orlando, Florida, took the first steps toward a technical specification that would enable Fibre Channel and SCSI (small computer systems interface) protocols to run over IP networks.

Much is at stake: Today, SCSI and Fibre Channel, which are the preferred methods for hooking SAN host computers to storage devices, are limited to distances of 25 meters and 10 kilometers, respectively. Putting them on IP would eliminate distance limitations and make storage networks more compatible with existing packet-based intranets.

"Lots of issues were resolved," said an attendee, who asked that his name and company be withheld. Among other things, some fine points -- such as details of tunneling Fibre Channel over IP -- were finalized, and a subgroup charged with providing a name service for managing both the iSCSI (SCSI over IP) and FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP) protocols was given some valuable guidance for completing their work. These steps could help produce a more complete, updated draft sometime within the next two months, the source said.

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