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SNIA's FCIP Group Debuts

The SNIA has started a group to support Fibre Channel over IP. Should you care?

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has formed a subgroup to promote Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP). Called simply the FCIP Group, it plans to "market and promote" FCIP through "educational materials, public presentations, interoperability and showcase demonstrations." (See SNIA Tackles IP Storage.) SNIA has already established similar groups to pump iFCP (Internet Fibre Channel protocol) and iSCSI (SCSI over IP).

But will the FCIP Group really make a difference, especially when it comes to interoperability -- the bugbear of the storage networking industry? Storage vendors are notorious for paying lip service to interoperability projects that quickly dissolve into passive-aggressive tug-of-wars. What's to say this group won't suffer from more of the same behavior?

There's evidence the group is doing no harm and may be helping to get folk thinking about ways to promote standards, instead of hindering them. Nishan Systems Inc., for instance, put its name on the press release announcing FCIP. In the past, Nishan's been a stalwart promoter of specs that run counter to FCIP (see Dueling SAN Specs Demo'd at Show and IP Storage Makes Names for Itself). But Randy Fardal, VP of marketing at Nishan, says the company's changed its tune a bit.

"We've made a business decision to interoperate with FCIP, even though it may not be the strongest protocol," he says, while asserting that in the future his favored protocol, iFCP, will win out. Right now, however, SNIA has helped him evolve a policy akin to what Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) did in the early 1990s. "They built a multiprotocol router... The market decided what the winning protocol would be."

And SNIA as also getting some good reviews for its work as a whole. "SNIA's doing a fantastic job," says Arun Taneja, director at The Enterprise Storage Group Inc., a consultancy. "They've risen above just supporting Fibre Channel by marketing a range of protocols."

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