Entrada Adds CWDM to Storage Switch
The product, called Silverline-WDM, gives enterprise and carrier customers a fast and economical way to link various "islands" of networked storage in buildings and campuses, using the cheap, available bandwidth provided by fiber-optic-based WDM technology. This would help fuel the use of emerging optical services by using metropolitan networks for storage applications.
Analysts say the move is a positive one for Entrada. "It's a good strategic play," says Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group Inc.. "It gets them away from being a point product provider to offering SAN solutions."
When Entrada announced its first product, the Silverline 222, last fall, it certainly ran the risk of being classed as a point product provider. That device, classed as a "SAN router" by Entrada, is designed to do one thing -- switch data traffic between Fibre channel and gigabit Ethernet interfaces.
"[The Silverline-WDM] is aimed at customers who need point-to-point links between SAN islands and optical network services," says Entrada VP of marketing Mike Harris.
Today, Harris says, customers spend big bucks for complicated leased-line connections among locations that support network-attached storage, Fibre channel SANs, and mainframe-attached devices. Alternatively, they invest in expensive multichannel optical platforms with SAN connectivity, such as those offered by ADVA AG Optical Networking (Neuer Markt: ADV, Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), or ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS).
Harris says with Silverline-WDM customers will be able to run different types of storage traffic over the same fiber via WDM. And he hints that Entrada's eager to promote its product as simpler and cheaper than optical platforms with SAN support.
On the downside, the new product does not have integral switching capabilities of its own. While it converts data from one interface to another and can multiplex streams of storage traffic together, it isn't able to actually switch from one link to another. Therefore, it must be used as an adjunct to switching gear like the Silverline 222 or third-party Fibre Channel switches.
"We plan to integrate the Silverline 222 with WDM product in the future," a spokesperson says. "Until then, this box is a cheap way to extend Fibre channel links another 80 kilometers over light."
According to Entrada, that's a market with plenty of demand. "We estimate that 40 to 45 percent of enterprises and carriers have access to the optical backbone," Harris says. He contends the box will let them take advantage of that proximity without breaking the bank.
Initially, the Silverline-WDM will offer two to four ports, capable of sending bidirectional traffic over eight wavelengths (four channels) on singlemode fiber. The switch will convert data traffic between Fibre channel and gigabit Ethernet interfaces at first, with ESCON and FICON mainframe channel interfaces to come in a following release. It will support Sonet OC3 (155 Mbit/s), OC12 (622 Mbit/s), and OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) connectivity.
The new Silverline-WDM won't be in beta tests until the end of this year, and it won't ship until the first quarter of 2002.
- Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com