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If you are a reseller specializing in storage, you’ve probably bumped into customers who—quite literally—want to get more mileage out of their storage area networks.

Indeed, customers would like to interconnect SAN islands, but Fibre Channel’s range is limited to about six miles. That’s a problem for organizations that want to mirror their data off-site for disaster recovery purposes or remote backup. A number of technology strategies and vendor offerings aim to get around this barrier.

Cisco’s SAN extension rollout provides cost-saving features, according to the company. For one, Cisco offers hardware-based FCIP compression, which can help companies utilize less expensive WAN circuits. Through compression, a customer may be able to use a DS-3 circuit at $7,000 per month compared with an OC-3 circuit at $24,000 per month, according to Bhardwaj.

On the extension side, Cisco is extending the range of Fibre Channel over DWDM and Sonet. The company says its new hardware offers up to 3,500 buffer credits per Fibre Channel port. Bhardwaj says the rule of thumb is 2 buffer credits per kilometer, which means the product can span distances of up to 1,750 kilometers (1085 miles).

Distance isn’t typically a problem with IP, but security is. Cisco provides hardware-based IPSec encryption to boost the privacy of extended SAN applications.

Duvoisin, meanwhile, believes Cisco will stick to the channel in the SAN market as it has in networking. He notes that Cisco’s history isn’t in replication, backup and recovery.
That’s where storage-specialty partners come in.

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