Brocade chief touts SAN potential

Emphasizing an industry projection of 35 petabytes of data being shipped in 2005, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. President and CEO Greg Reyes touted SANs (storage area networks) as critical to data management during a keynote speech at the SAN 2001 conference here.

"If you go up to a 50,000-foot level, data growth is just beginning to explode," said Reyes, whose company sells SAN infrastructure. Citing a Gartner study that projects an expansion of data shipped from 2 petabytes in 2001 to 35 petabytes in 2005, with 70 percent of it to be SAN-attached, Reyes said, "The implication is true growth in data hasn't even begun yet. It's in front of us."

Arguing that legacy, direct-attached storage infrastructures "just won't scale," Reyes said a networked model for storage optimizes capital investment and personnel.

Applications to benefit from SANs include data warehousing, e-mail and messaging, intranets and extranets, CRM (customer relationship management), and financial services-based e-commerce applications, said Reyes.

"I think it is obvious that a SAN allows a larger number of servers to see a common set of storage resources," Reyes said.

An audience member, interviewed following the speech, agreed about the importance of SANs.

"For a big company, [SANs are] a must," said Guy Gillis, storage manager at Dexia Bank, in Brussels, Belgium.

"Management of more and more terabytes of data is no longer possible in another way," Gillis said.

SANs, Reyes said, enable centralized storage management, server consolidation, back-up and fault tolerance.

"The SAN architecture of today enables what I believe to be high ROI, broad impact, killer applications," Reyes said.

Applications will emerge, he said, that request resources from the SAN and can alert the SAN of bandwidth needs and security breaches.

Reyes presented a vision of a datacenter acting as a "cloud" with an intelligent fabric linking computers, storage, and access resources.

"The SAN could emerge as one of the most important platforms for deploying the data center of the future," Reyes said.

SANs will be deployed in a multiprotocol world, with SCSI over IP, Fibre Channel, Infiniband, and optical protocols playing roles, Reyes said. He called Infiniband the next-generation server architecture.

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