I enjoyed reading your informative article on VIA and systems area networks (CI No 3,552), which you refer to as SANs. However, the computer industry is currently using the acronym SAN to represent Storage Area Networks, a term that is gaining very rapid acceptance by both customers and industry and Wall Street analysts alike. (I […]
I enjoyed reading your informative article on VIA and systems area networks (CI No 3,552), which you refer to as SANs. However, the computer industry is currently using the acronym SAN to represent Storage Area Networks, a term that is gaining very rapid acceptance by both customers and industry and Wall Street analysts alike. (I believe the term was first coined nearly two years ago by Howie Fong at Gadzooks). I would humbly suggest that there would be less confusion all round if the term SAN is left to represent Storage Area Networks. In fact, Fibre Channel based SANs are very likely to support VIA (as well as SCSI3 and IP) as a higher layer, and clustering is very much a part of the Storage Area Network. Any suggestions you may have to help differentiate these two network cousins would be most welcome.
Best regards, Philip Black, CEO Box Hill Systems Corp email@example.com
The Editor replies:
Thanks you for your comments, and I agree that dual use of the SAN acronym can cause confusion. But it does appear to me that system area networks might have a prior claim to the acronym. The first reference in Computergram to SANs was in July 1995 (CI No 2,707), coined by Tandem Computers Inc for its ServerNet interconnect. Tandem used the term regularly from that date on. It’s true the SAN term didn’t start getting picked up by other companies until the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, and didn’t become a popular term until it was used by Compaq, Intel and Microsoft for the VIA announcement in March 1997. But the first storage area network references in our publications do not occur until 1997, in connection with companies such as Gadzoox and Brocade, and references are few and far between until this year.
John Abbott Editor, Computergram International San Francisco
Both System Area Network and Storage Area Network initiatives are not mutually exclusive and in fact are largely complementary, in that both are attempting to drive industry-standards into business-critical enterprise computing. Currently, the initiatives are focusing on different areas, with System Area Networks addressing server-to-server communication standards (IPC) and Storage Area Networks describing server-to-storage communication standards. We envision that in the future these initiatives will converge and instead of differentiating on IPC vs. storage will complement each other by System Area Networks and Storage Area Networks defining the low-level infrastructure and high-level operation standards respectively for a common distributed enterprise computing paradigm. At that time, one SAN term to refer to both initiatives may be most appropriate.