Storage, LAN architectures veer towards IP

Storage architectures and LANs (Local Area Networks) will have to become more open to address the growing requirements of the Internet age, according to Kazuhiko Kobayashi, associate senior vice president at Japan's NEC Corp.

The situation today, according to Kobayashi, is that SAN (Storage Area Networks) systems have the required performance, but rely on proprietary Fibre Channel interconnects. The alternative NAS (Network Attached Storage) systems run on standard LANs but do not scale to sufficiently high performance, Kobayashi said in a speech here Wednesday at the Asia-Pacific IT forum, organized by International Data Corp. (IDC).

What makes the problem even more serious is that storage requirements are growing faster than processor requirements in the Internet era, according to Kobayashi. At the moment, sales of servers lead those of storage products 60:40, but that ratio will be reversed by the end of next year, he said.

NEC is therefore proposing new storage architecture features:

-- common hardware for NAS/SAN storage

-- all communications based on IP (Internet Protocol)-- improved performance for LANs, which connect all Unix/Windows NT servers, PCs and mainframes.

LAN performance is expected to increase from 1G bps (bits per second) throughput this year to 10G bps next year and 40G bps in 2003, said Kobayashi.

Server issues will continue to be important, and servers will in future be deployed in three layers -- high-end data center servers, application servers, and appliance servers containing routers, cache modules and firewalls, according to Kobayashi.

The data center servers evolving will include 16-way Itanium 64-bit Intel Corp. processors; application servers will increasingly become fault-tolerant, running applications simultaneously on two systems; appliance servers will feature a rack-mount architecture, capable of integrating network modules such as hubs, routers and load balancers, with other Web functions such as firewalls, Web servers and electronic commerce accelerators, Kobayashi said.

IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of the IDG News Service.

NEC, in Tokyo, can contacted at +81-3-3454-1111 and found online at

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