Sun's Down on Storage Over IP

Sun exec dismisses storage over IP as a 'dream'

December 14, 2001

2 Min Read
Network Computing logo

NEW YORK StorageNext 2001– Mark Canepa, executive VP of storage products at Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), shot down the IP storage market during his keynote speech here Thursday, dismissing it as a “dream.”

Canepa said TCP/IP is impractical for use in storage area networks, where the network itself is used to back up data. That's because the processing involved reading and forwarding packets appropriately introduces lag time or latency.

Canepa asserted that if storage over IP does have a future, it will be a long time coming -- “three to five years or maybe never.” He added, “Storage cannot run on top of a general-purpose stack designed for everything – storage traffic has specific needs.

“The dream of slapping together a TCP/IP network because everyone knows how easy it is to do it, won’t work… The technology hurdles are greater than people realize. Sun is betting that Fibre Channel will be the main driver for SAN communication for some time to come.”

Canepa explained, at length, Sun’s “One” strategy, or “Open Network Environment,” which is essentially about distributed computing and how to manage data across the network from a systems perspective.During the Q&A after the keynote, several questions came up on the vendor’s lack of a strategy for storage virtualization -- the ability to pool different types and brands of storage devices regardless of operating system or network infrastructure (see Virtual Reality?). Canepa told the audience to stay tuned.

Sources at the show say Sun plans to introduce a new product, dubbed the 6900, which will be a version of its high-end StorEdge T3 disk array. This system will run virtualization and policy-based management software from Vicom Systems Inc. The sources say Sun is expected to launch this product at its analysts' event in February next year and will market the technology for use in SANs.

Sun officials had no comment, but it’s clear something is afoot. “At this time, Sun is not commenting on any pending network storage announcements," a spokesperson said. "But, given Sun's high level of investment in this critical area, it's not a surprise that we will have new and significantly enhanced products in 2002. We are not providing any specific details regarding what those might include."

Sun is among the only system vendors that have taken such a decisive stance against IP storage. Competitor Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP), in contrast, has officially supported the technique (see HP and Adaptec Bond Over iSCSI ).

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights