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InfiniBand of Brothers

Competition can be fierce in storage networking, as in other industries, with rivals looking to undercut one another in any way possible.

Consider the interlocking interests of SAN vendors, NAS vendors, backup software vendors, Fibre Channel switch vendors, etc. Even when they come together on industry trade groups, it takes years to develop standards that interoperate.

The exception that proves the rule is InfiniBand. The vendors highlighted in our latest Byte and Switch Insider, High-Speed Interconnect: Race to the Data Center, know they have to cooperate to survive. Left for dead as a group a few years back, they know the importance of hanging together to win the trust of the industry (see InfiniBand Clan Gives Thanks).

And it seems to be working. Engenio Information Technologies Inc., for example, recently added an InfiniBand connection option to its latest midrange SAN system. One of the things that won over Engenio was InfiniBand's compatibility among vendors a sharp contract to Fibre Channel, for which each vendor has its own architecture.

"We're seeing significantly less interoperability issues [with InfiniBand] than we've had with Fibre Channel," says Stan Skelton, senior director of strategic planning for Engenio. "You avoid the issues like in Fibre Channel, where every vendor has a totally different architecture and driver, and you take that across operating systems."

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