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Mark Lewis: Page 8 of 15

It is very critical for us to be able to provide most of the functionality across all platforms and then even greater functionality once applications start to write directly to the virtual layer.

Byte and Switch: There are also two aspects of virtualization. One is the ability to accommodate multiple server platforms within a given storage system. The second aspect is to extend the storage pool across storage systems from different vendors. Have we gotten to the point, for example, of being able to combine a Compaq storage system and an EMC box into the same virtual pool? Or is that still in the future?

Lewis: Well, it is still in the future for us. The product we're designing, the VersaStor product I mentioned, will be generally available in the second quarter of next year, 2002. That product is designed so that there are no requirements as to brand or type of storage. That product will do what you are asking about.

If you look at the steps we are taking, every step is moving us down that road. So, we're telling our customers, "No, you can't do that today, realistically. But, we are building more-or-less firewalled SANs that partition out the storage."
Before, you could only build one-vendor SANs. Now there are ways of putting multiple vendors together in the SAN, but you still need to have some partitioning. Over time, we'll continue to add to the functionality to make it more ubiquitous.

Byte and Switch: Is virtualization a bigger problem between servers, or between different storage systems? For example, can you pool a Compaq storage system with an EMC box? And once you do, is that pool of storage available to all operating systems?