Australia Post will be early SAN adopter despite concerns

Australia Post has indicated it will press ahead with plans to become an early storage area networks (SAN) adopter despite its concerns about a lack of industry standards for the emerging technology.

Industry standards for SAN do not yet exist, and two main groups - the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) and the EMC-led FibreAlliance - are competing to develop SAN standards.

Other early adopters of SAN technology have complained about interoperability issues with the emerging technology, (see Cover Story, Computerworld June 4, p10).

Despite these issues, AP plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP), which will include its SAN requirements, in July or August 1999.

The RFP will follow a Request for Information (RFI) for the supply of data storage, including SAN, issued in March 1999.

"We are watching SAN standards closely," said Valda Berzins, CIO, Australia Post, adding that the postal service was interested in the question of what mechanisms exist that could ensure investment protection for AP's SAN initiative over time.

Listing reasons behind AP's SAN initiative, Berzins said: "The SAN will provide us with the ability to decouple increasing storage needs from application processing platforms. [It will] provide the ability to allocate storage resources to applications independently of the processing platform. It will also provide a mechanism to share data amongst applications more effectively."

In terms of AP's SAN requirements, Berzins said: "AP requires that the SAN solution can exist within our current processing environment. It must be robust, resilient and scalable . . . AP's implementation of SAN will evolve over time. Initially, the SAN will be connected to a single processor type. This will be used to assure us of the performance, robustness and management performance.

"We will then increase the number of platforms connected to the SAN. It is anticipated that the SAN will eventually contain common application data, meta data, application-specific data and application internal code.

"It will be an integral part of AP's operation."

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