3Com Corp. will jump into the storage-area network fray later this year when the company begins shipping its first Fibre Channel switches, hubs and PCI host bus adapters.
In partnership with Data General's Clariion Advanced Storage Division, Legato and MTI, 3Com will provide a SAN offering that incorporates hubs, adapters, backup software, tape libraries and RAID disk subsystems.
3Com this week announced the line of StorageConnect PCI-based Fibre Channel products. The company would not give details on the individual configurations, port densities or prices of these products. 3Com's Fibre Channel products, like the company's other products, can be managed via 3Com's Transcend software.
SANs rely on three components to offload backup and recovery operations from the server: the network infrastructure; the storage peripherals; and the software used for backup, migration and archiving. 3Com is among the first network infrastructure vendors to offer Fibre Channel products that link storage to the network infrastructure. These products will operate in Windows NT, Unix (primarily Solaris), NetWare and legacy environments.
"The entrance of any network vendor, in this case 3Com, into the SAN space legitimizes the SAN industry," says Anders Lofgren, senior industry analyst at Giga Information in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "3Com brings to the table great network experience that none of the traditional storage vendors in this market do."
3Com, Lofgren argues, faces a challenge integrating its network gear with a technology the firm is unfamiliar with -- storage. And although network administrators are familiar with 3Com's products, storage administrators are not. "It will be interesting to see the type of reception 3Com receives with those individuals," Lofgren says.