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IP storage -- growth opportunity for VARs?

VARs and systems integrators seeking ways to add value to technologies like Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) and disk storage, which are seen as commodity based, the solution is right in front of you: IP storage.

What is IP storage?

Greg Schulz

Combine GigE-based IP networks and disk storage as part of an IP storage solution to address various business and IT challenges that may include supporting and enabling server or storage consolidation, disk-to-disk backup, and data or storage sharing among applications.

As a quick refresher, IP-based storage includes network-attached storage (NAS), also known as NFS and Windows CIFS file sharing. NAS is deployed using off-the-shelf commonly available processors and software stacks, including general purpose Windows or Linux-based operating system servers, or customized hardware and software on dedicated processors known as appliances. NAS can be used to support general purpose file sharing, databases, email, video, imaging, Web and many other applications. NAS is also a good method to support local and distributed backup needed for desktop and mobile laptop users.

IP storage resources
Long-distance storage networking applications

IP storage networking expands remote data replication

Another form of IP storage is SCSI block-based storage access over IP (iSCSI), an alternative to direct attached storage (DAS) using SCSI, SAS, SATA or Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs). IP storage also includes non-native IP-based storage functions, such as Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) and Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP). FCIP and iFCP are used to support storage over distance applications like remote mirroring, replication, remote SAN backups and electronic vaulting.

Another technology that can fall under the IP storage umbrella is content-addressed storage (CAS) used for long-term archive and data preservation. Is say this because many CAS solutions use some form of access protocol over IP, including NFS, CIFS, HTTP, FTP and other proprietary APIs.

Why use IP storage?

A common challenge for many organizations is timely and comprehensive data protection and data preservation. IP-based storage is a great complementary technology combined with disk-to-disk data protection (3DP), such as disk-to-disk (D2D) and disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T), along with other approaches to protect data locally and remotely. IP-based storage enables distributed access of storage while supporting data movement over distance for remote mirroring, replication, archiving, and electronic vaulting for data backup. Other uses include storage and data sharing, and mobile storage access and data backup.

Vendors providing IP storage solutions include 3PAR, BlueArc, Brocade, Cisco, DataDomain, EMC, EqualLogic, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, InfoTrend, Intel, LeftHand Networks, Microsoft, NetApp, ONStor, Panasas, PolyServe, QLogic, SANrad, and Verari.

To offer value-add solutions, combine IP=based storage features and services with software from vendors including Aptare, Archivas, Asigra, EVault, Attune, Brocade, Diligent, DoubleTake, EMC, FalconStor, FilesX, GoldenGate, HP, IBM, IntraDyn, Kazeon, Microsoft, NeoPath, NetApp, Neverfail, Scentric, Sepaton, Signiant, Solix, SteelEye, StoredIQ, Symantec, Tek-Tools, WysDM and many others.

Hopefully you see how combing different technologies and wrapping value-add services around them can address various IT challenges and open the door to new channel business opportunities. If you are still not clear, need some additional ideas or wish to discuss how IP-based storage can be used to add value for your organization, send me an email and we can discuss various options. About the author:

About the author: Greg Schulz is founder and Sr. analyst of the independent storage analyst firm the StorageIO group and author of the book Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier).

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