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John R. "Beau" Vrolyk, President and CEO, 3ware

Most people in the industry agree that the jury is still out on whether IP will even get close to replacing Fibre Channel as the de facto standard for storage networks.

Not Beau Vrolyk. Hes so sold on the idea that in 1995 he came out of retirement to be the CEO of 3ware Inc., an IP storage startup based in Mountain View, Calif. 3ware makes an IP storage box called the Palisade that contains an Ethernet switch and the capacity to hold multiple terabytes of storage.

He was sailing his boat around the tranquil islands of New Zealand with his family at the time. "The Internet was just beginning to take off, and I couldn't stand missing it," he says. "I'd had enough of floating around in the South Pacific and became very grumpy." Eventually his wife and kids agreed to head back to the U.S. (for a bit of peace and quiet, by the sound of it).

According to Vrolyk, (who doesn't appear to be insane), Fibre Channel is going the way Token Ring did: under. IBM spent millions of dollars marketing Token Ring and still only got 10 to 15 percent market penetration, he says. (Although FC is the dominant techonlogy in storage networks today, it has only penetrated about 30 percent of the potential market.) And the reason for Token Ring's demise? “Ethernet, Ethernet, and more Ethernet,” Vrolyk says. “It’s everywhere, and that ubiquity is what will eventually force Fibre Channel on to the same scrap heap.”

Should he be wrong (gasp!) and IP storage doesn’t get off the ground, he still has the boat and will go back to sailing it. But he's confident that won’t happen: “The Fibre Channel folk waffle on about TCP/IP not being robust enough for storage applications. It’s totally irrelevant."

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