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NetApp and Troika Partner for VI FC

SAN-NAS convergence is the storage buzzword du jour, and today’s announcement from Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) and Troika Networks Inc. that the companies would partner to develop Fibre Channel-based Virtual Interface (VI) technologies for NetApp’s line of NAS devices added to the buzzword’s gravitas.

NetApp is beginning to push it line of Filer NAS devices as a high speed SAN gateway. Servers can attach to the device with either standard or VI-enable Ethernet, then use the NAS device for connecting Fibre Channel storage devices.

The partnership with Troika allows NetApp to integrate VI-enable Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBA) into its high end filers, allowing high speed connections to SAN devices.

NetApp announced a partnership with Giganet this past summer to provide VI-enabled IP-based server-to-NAS connectivity. Giganet was purchased last week by Fibre Channel vendor Emulex Corp. “We don’t view these as competing partnerships at all,” says Adam Trunkey, director of communications at NetApp.

With the addition of the Troika product, NetApp now will soon have an end-to-end VI solution. It combines the file-level I/O of NAS and the block-level I/O of SAN,” says Brenda Christensen, director of marketing at Troika.

Troika has been shipping VI-enabled HBAs, which it calls “controllers,” for about a year, and has previously announced partnerships with Hitachi Storage Systems to resell the controllers. However, Troika has had an initiative to develop for NetApp’s Direct Access File System (DAFS) in the pipe for some time, so the partnership with NetApp adds to its ability to leverage its compatibility with NetApp products.

“The convergence of SAN and NAS is real,” Christensen declares, believing that the lines between the two storage paradigms will become blurred. If NetApp is successful in promoting its filers as a SAN gateway, it may allow users to integrate both technologies into their datacenters seamlessly.

VI is a technology for direct memory transfers from a server to another device. It allows high speed network connections, because TCP/IP or Fibre Channel stack processing is offloaded from the main processor, to a secondary card.

In order to benefit from VI, software developers must make their applications “VI-aware,” able to support the VI cards. Christensen says that many major software vendors are ready for VI. “This is one case where database vendors have moved ahead of the hardware vendors,” Christensen says. – Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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