Fibre channel interoperability forum debuts

The industry's leading Fibre Channel switch vendors on Monday announced an initiative that will assure interoperability between switches in storage area networks (SANs).

The Open Standards Fabric Initiative's (OSFI's) aim is to accelerate standards adoption by agreeing on the elements that allow interoperability between Fibre Channel switches. Made up of Ancor Communications, Brocade, Gadzoox Networks, McDatta and Vixel, the OSFI will draft a proposal by year end and submit it to the American National Standards Institute.

"Interoperability between competing Fibre Channel fabric switches is mandatory for broad end-user acceptance of open SANs," says Robert Gray, research director for storage systems at IDC.

The OSFI joins several other groups seeking interoperability of equipment used in SANs. The FibreAlliance formed by EMC and a collection of Fibre Channel vendors has proposed a specification. Sun recently renamed its StoreX technology Jiro, which is a Java approach to interoperability. And the Storage Network Industry Association, a group of storage vendors, earlier this year announced that they would work on interoperability and management proposals for SANs.

The SAN market for hardware, software and services is expected to grow from an estimated $US3.5 billion in to $14.8 billion by 2000, according to Strategic Research.