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SBC Lights Up SANs (In Theory)

Today SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) rekindled its on-and-off relationship with Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). SBC plans to purchase DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) metro optical switches from Nortel with an aim to boost the bandwidth of long-distance storage.

The deal calls for SBC to buy gear from Nortel on an as-needed” basis (i.e., a contract without specific terms) to connect mainframes, data centers, and storage networks within a metropolitan area.

Backing up and mirroring data across cities and among data centers has become a real issue for many of the world’s largest corporations -- especially in light of the September 11 attacks. But as the market develops, it's clear that wide-area storage services are still not the mass market that many would like them to be.

"There aren’t a ton of companies out there that need this, but those that do are big deals, and we are getting calls about it,” says Ashley Blaker, communications spokesman at SBC.

What are the barriers to boosting the wide-are storage services market? The largest challenge to such services are the protocols used to provide them, such as ESCON (Enterprise Systems Connection, invented by IBM to connect its mainframes together) and Fibre Channel.

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