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DAFS Debuts: Page 2 of 2

The DAFS protocol works by taking advantage of standard memory-to-memory interconnect technologies such as VI (the Virtual Interface architecture) and InfiniBand in clustered data center environments. DAFS is the language the applications use to access network interface hardware without operating system intervention, and to carry out bulk data transfers directly to or from application buffers with minimal CPU overhead.

The goal, so the DAFS folk say, is a significant increase in application server CPU cycles available for application processing -- coupled with low-latency, shared file access among application servers and storage systems connected by Fibre Channel, gigabit Ethernet, or InfiniBand networks.

Troika Networks is the most active startup supporting VI (see Top Ten Private
Storage Networking Companies
). Companies demonstrating DAFS technology at the conference include Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Emulex Corp. (Nasdaq: EMLX), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Network Appliance, and Troika.

Version 1.0 of the DAFS spec is slated for release at the end of July, although applications that support it are not expected until the end of the year. The big question is whether DAFS will get enough traction within the industry -- from vendors and IT users alike -- to stay afloat.

- Jo Maitland, senior editor, Byte and Switch