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Break The Storage Racket

The storage industry has carved out a lucrative space for itself by forcing customers to purchase from approved equipment lists and qualified vendors and VARs.Vendors argue that storage is so sensitive to latency, jitter, and packet and frame loss that equipment qualification is needed to ensure the SAN fabric works.

The stranglehold extends far beyond the SAN fabric.Any features you'd like to add to a storage infrastructure also must be qualified to be supported. For example, Riverbed, a WAN optimization company, recently announced a product that supports disaster recovery. That product, and similar ones from the likes of Silver Peak, must have storage vendors' blessings to be part of the SAN fabric.

What a mess.

Storage vendors defend their position by pointing to SCSI, a protocol designed under the assumption it would always have exclusive use of the system bus.But there's no technical reason we can't have interoperable products without a vendor-imposed qualification process.After all,Ethernet and TCP/IP have succeeded without one. However, the status quo protects a lucrative revenue stream and keeps storage vendors--not buyers--in control.

If vendors won't change their practices, technology might. One case in point is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), which may be the technology that tips this cash cow.That's because FCoE will be a feature in Ethernet switches that a company's networking group buys, not its storage team.When networking customers make purchasing decisions, storage is just one of several considerations.And networking groups accustomed to the open nature of Ethernet will likely balk at what they see as artificial vendor restrictions.Of course, storage vendors believe FCoE will just be the transport to carry storage networking through qualified equipment--and the old order will be preserved.

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