Nortel is aware of the emerging iSCSI (SCSI over Internet) protocol and has been loosely involved in its development but is waiting to see what happens when it is ratified later this year. Its not surprising the company hasnt thrown its weight behind iSCSI, as support for this protocol helps Ciscos drive to transfer storage networking over to IP. Soon, however, not supporting iSCSI may not be an option for Nortel, if the momentum towards the IP-SAN protocol continues at its current pace.
Nortel argues that most of the demand today for storage networking is coming from mainframe customers using EMC Symmetrix storage systems, with vast amounts of the data residing in huge SAP or Oracle databases. And right now all these systems run on Fibre Channel networks, not IP.
Which is fair enough, but many enterprises are also looking to extend the reach of their storage area networks across large geographic areas and to consolidate their storage into "information pools," and this is very expensive using Fibre Channel extensions, such as Escon and Ficon.
The deal with EMC is not exclusive. Expect plenty more like it, says Evans, as the company moves towards a strategy of partnering with the leading players in certain fields. It recently did a deal with
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
to bundle its optical switches with Microsofts dot.NET servers and software to provide data centers and IXCs with a Web-hosting package.
Leveraging the EMC deal, Nortel also hopes to sell its Clarify customer relationship management software to service providers as an application to sell across the system. The two partners have tested Clarify running over an optical networked storage infrastructure as one example of managed services and applications that can benefit from the setup.