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SANs: Reheat and Serve ?

What do the startups need to fight the storage giants? More viable products, say investors

NEW YORK -- StorageNext -- Experts pointed to overhyped technologies and underdelivered products in the world of storage networking startups here in a technology panel at the StorageNext2001 conference.

In fact, the What’s Hot, What’s Not” panel might have been characterized as the "What's Not, What's Not" panel. Experts said a hodgepodge of multiprotocol storage switching players are struggling to gain customer attention. But the investors see long-term potential for companies developing products that can simplify and manage storage over wide-area networks.

Panelists noted that certain battles of technology protocols were too early to call. Among these, competing specs -- such as Infiniband vs. 3GIO in the interconnect market and iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel over IP in the wide-area market -- are being played out slowly as customer adoption remains tepid, at best.

”It’s like the early days of networking,” said John Kain, partner with VantagePoint Venture Partners. “It’s a market with lots of different protocols, and nobody is sure which way it’s going to go.”

Several venture capitalists, in fact, were downright skeptical whether many storage players in the systems market will survive the shakeout from competition at the hands of Goliaths such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC).

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