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Nortel Pipes SANs Into Sonet

Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) plans to roll out Fibre Channel-over-Sonet options for its metro optical networking platforms starting next month -- promising more cost-effective ways to extend SANs over much longer distances (see Nortel Preps Storage Over Sonet).

As first reported by Byte and Switch, Nortel will broaden its OPTera Metro platforms to support storage over Sonet to provide enterprises and carriers lower bit-rate connectivity options at distances of up to thousands of kilometers (see SANs See Sonet).

In April, Nortel expects to ship two-port GFP (Generic Framing Procedure) cards for its OPTera Metro 5100 and 5200, which will allow those systems to encapsulate Fibre Channel, Ficon, or Gigabit Ethernet into Sonet frames. Then in July, it will follow on with the same options for its lower-end 3500 platform. No pricing is available yet for the storage-over-Sonet options.

Today, most companies extend SANs over long distances by converting Fibre Channel to IP, says Jack Hunt, director of marketing in Nortel's optical storage connectivity division. But this approach introduces some latency -- which can be murder on storage applications.

"Sonet is connection-oriented, so you don't have the jitter and delay issues you get with a routed, connectionless architecture," he says. Hunt also notes that the cores of many service provider networks are running Sonet, so sending storage over Sonet eliminates that additional step of encapsulating it into IP.

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