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Sprint Stretches Storage Over IP

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) has completed a disaster recovery demo that enables data replication over a wide-area IP network, which it claims it can turn up as a service any time (see Sprint Readies DR Service).

What it doesn't know, is how much to charge for the service yet or when it might formally introduce it. The usual time frame for a new service to hit the streets once it's been approved in Sprint's Concept Realization Center [ed. note: a fancy term for R&D lab] is a year to 18 months. "We are still working on the business case around it," says Sprint spokesman Jeff Chaltas.

"This service could enable customers such as banks to replicate their data at extremely remote locations using their existing IP connections," says Oliver Valente, VP of technology development at Sprint. "Its a huge cost saving over current methods."

Today, disaster recovery offerings from the likes of AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) and other carriers link up data centers using a whole fiber or a whole wavelength rather than simply making use of existing IP infrastructure, which is much cheaper. “The last mile to the customer no longer has to be fiber, it can be FCIP [Fibre Channel over IP], which is significantly less expensive than DWDM,” says Audrey Harman, manager of the technical staff at the Sprint Concept Realization Center.

The demonstration was conducted using an FCIP connection, a protocol that's being standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which encapsulates Fibre Channel storage traffic within IP packets for connectivity over wide-area networks.

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