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IP SANs Matriculate

There's been a flurry of activity surrounding IP SAN technology recently, but many enterprise users still seem wary of getting in on the action. Educational institutions, however -- which traditionally have been among the earliest early adopters of any new information technology -- have been flocking to the technology from the start.

IP storage startups like LeftHand Networks and Sanrad, along with big switch vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), say that they have been landing one university customer after another, and that they expect to see continued strong traction in the space.

"Education in general seems to be moving pretty rapidly towards IP SANs," says Zophar "Zogood" Sante, Sanrad's VP of market development. "Of our early adopters of IP SANs, about 75 percent were educational institutions." He adds that universities still represent more than a third of the company's approximately 60 customers.

Universities, of course, have long been eager to experiment with new technologies. "Universities can afford to be a bit more experimental because they have students that can look at a new technology and see if they can make it work," says Data Mobility Group analyst John Webster. "Educational environments are ideal for trying new things."

When it comes to storage over IP, a number of additional factors also explain why educational institutions are picking up the technology quickly, analysts say. Universities typically already have large, intricate IP networks in place to link their dispersed departments and institutions, as well as to share information with other schools. And while these places of learning generally have exploding storage needs and growing performance requirements, they don't usually have the budgets necessary to deploy Fibre Channel SANs in each individual department.

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