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Nortel extends Fibre Channel traffic over Sonet

Nortel Networks has added Fibre Channel storage over synchronous optical networks (Sonet) to its product offerings.

By using readily available Sonet networks, companies can tunnel between storage-area networks across distances for disaster recovery and business continuity without having to purchase expensive multiprotocol switches for their data centres. 

Sonet is a widely available protocol that most telecommunications carriers use to send data traffic over distance. Sonet can use any private line, whether it's T3, T1, DS1 or Asynchronous Transfer Mode frame relay or IP traffic. 

Nortel Networks added storage over Sonet and Synchronous Digital Hierarchy on its Optera Metro Multiservice switches, including the Metro 5000 series for carriers and on the Metro 3500 switch. The Metro 5000 switches are expected to be available in early April, and the Metro 3500 in July. 

Nortel is using a new blade device, which relies on generic framing procedure (GFP) to encapsulate Fibre Channel packets for transport over Sonet to enable the long-distance replication of data. 

"This allows a carrier customer to get an OC3 circuit from a carrier and then plug a Fibre Channel switch directly into that Sonet circuit and carry [block-level data] across distance in a cost-effective manner," said Jack Hunt, Nortel director of marketing for storage networking solutions. 

At present, moving block-level data father than 120 miles requires using multiprotocol switches that take advantage of several storage over IP protocols, including Internet Fibre Channel Protocol, Fibre Channel over IP and Internet Small Computer System Interface. 

Meanwhile, Cisco Systems has added dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) for its ONS 15454 metro optical transport system for transport over Sonet. 

"What we announced today is for Fibre Channel or Ficon or Gigabit Ethernet," said Rob Koslowsky, director of marketing for Cisco's optical networks group. 

Most large enterprises today use DWDM to connect multiple Sans to each other or to secondary backup sites. But Fibre Channel, the most common network protocol used between data centres for transport of block-level data, has a distance limit of about 62 miles. Nortel claims to support about 80% of SAN extensions over DWDM with its Optera Metro 5200 optical switch.


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