SNIA's FCIP Group Debuts

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

July 12, 2001

2 Min Read
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The Storage NetworkingIndustry Association (SNIA) has formed a subgroup to promote FibreChannel over IP (FCIP). Called simply the FCIP Group, it plans to "market andpromote" 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 lipservice to interoperability projects that quickly dissolve intopassive-aggressive tug-of-wars. What's to say this group won't sufferfrom more of the same behavior?

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

"We've made a business decision to interoperate with FCIP, eventhough it may not be the strongest protocol," he says, while asserting that in the futurehis 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... Themarket 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 fantasticjob," says Arun Taneja, director at The EnterpriseStorage Group Inc., a consultancy. "They've risen above justsupporting Fibre Channel by marketing a range of protocols."The question remains, however, just how serious a force SNIAreally is. There are signs that it may not be much more than a way formembers to get their names on a few press releases for $7,000 to $35,000annual membership dues. A visit to the group's Website doesn't producethe FCIP white paper promised in the press release -- although the FCIPgroup chair, Marc Oswald of Brocade Communications SystemsInc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), was able to send one to us via email.

Indeed, the Website is a mess. Besides being tough to navigate, itproduces little substance. The page devoted to the IP Storage WorkGroup (see riddled with "text coming soon" notes -- and nothing else.

-- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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