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WilTel Debuts SAN Service

ORLANDO, Fla. -- WilTel
Communications Group Inc.
has become the latest IXC to offer a storage transport service. At the Storage Networking World tradeshow here today, the carrier announced StoragXtend, a service in which Fibre Channel bandwidth is offered to customers in 50-Mbit/s increments, through OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) rates.

WilTel has teamed with Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) to offer the service. WilTel will install and manage Nortel's Optical Metro 3500 Sonet gear at customer premises in order to deliver the Sonet-compatible SAN transport services, which have been tested for interoperability with Symmetrix DMX and Clariion CX series SAN systems from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC).

WilTel's careful not to make too much of an endorsement of either Nortel or EMC, however. According to Paul Saville, WilTel's director of data services, the agreement with Nortel isn't exclusive, though he says the carrier found "Nortel had the best technology for CPE." Also, he says "dozens" of other SAN boxes, including ones from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) will work with the new services, though they're not officially stamped by WilTel's labs just yet.

The chief beneficiaries of WilTel's new services could be WilTel business customers, folk who want to link multiple SAN sites for disaster recovery across any of the 100-odd U.S. cities where WilTel offers Sonet services -- and who are looking for discounts on multiple offerings.

The key element of the new offering is that it runs on WANs. Unlike metro SAN services, which have been ramping up fairly well, WAN services are scarcer (see SAN Transport's Truckin' in the Metro). They're also used for different applications. Unlike metro services, wide-area SAN services are geared to providing asynchronous disaster recovery, in which backups don't have to be coordinated over short distances, but can take place over a longer time and across greater distances than 50 miles.

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