The Storage Networking
Industry Association (SNIA) has formed a subgroup to promote Fibre
Channel over IP (FCIP). Called simply the FCIP Group, it plans to "market and
promote" FCIP through "educational materials, public presentations,
interoperability and showcase demonstrations." (See SNIA Tackles IP Storage.) SNIA has already established similar groups to pump iFCP (Internet Fibre Channel protocol) and iSCSI
(SCSI over IP).
But will the FCIP Group really make a difference, especially when it comes to interoperability -- the bugbear of the storage networking industry? Storage vendors are notorious for paying lip
service to interoperability projects that quickly dissolve into
passive-aggressive tug-of-wars. What's to say this group won't suffer
from more of the same behavior?
There's evidence the group is doing no harm and may be
helping to get folk thinking about ways to promote standards, instead of
hindering them. Nishan Systems Inc.,
for instance, put its name on the press release announcing FCIP. In the
past, Nishan's been a stalwart promoter of specs that run counter to
FCIP (see Dueling SAN Specs Demo'd at Show and IP Storage Makes Names for Itself). But Randy Fardal, VP of
marketing at Nishan, says the company's changed its tune a bit.
"We've made a business decision to interoperate with FCIP, even
though it may not be the strongest protocol," he says, while asserting that in the future
his favored protocol, iFCP, will win out. Right now,
however, SNIA has helped him evolve a policy akin to what Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:
CSCO) did in the early 1990s. "They built a multiprotocol router... The
market decided what the winning protocol would be."
And SNIA as also getting some good reviews for its work as a whole. "SNIA's doing a fantastic
job," says Arun Taneja, director at The Enterprise
Storage Group Inc., a consultancy. "They've risen above just
supporting Fibre Channel by marketing a range of protocols."