Store it like a MAN

There's rarely such a thing as a genuinely new idea in IT -- as any enthusiast for thin client computing who has ever worked with a mainframe can tell you.

There's rarely such a thing as a genuinely new idea in IT. Concepts that appear to have flopped or been consigned to the waste bin of history can often recur decades later, as any enthusiast for thin client computing who has ever worked with a mainframe can tell you.

The area of storage and data management isn't immune from this phenomenon, as I was reminded during a presentation on trends in wide-area network management this week.

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Discussing the different kinds of network architecture, Dr James Kershaw, switched data products manager for Nextgen Networks, noted that while the local area network (LAN) has spread from business use into the home and the wide area network (WAN) remains an essential communications tool for larger enterprises, the concept of a metropolitan area network (MAN), covering a relatively wide urban area but not extending further than that, has largely been forgotten.

There is, however, one exception: in disaster recovery (DR) planning, many of the key concepts draw heavily on the heritage of MAN design.

"We're seeing a re-emergence of MAN technology in the area of disaster recovery networks, where MAN concepts have come back into favour," Kershaw said during a Melbourne presentation on the topic.

Many of the standards which are central to building DR systems, such as fibre channel and SCOM, are largely based on standards first developed for MAN networks, Kershaw said in a subsequent interview with ZDNet Australia.

Now I'd be the first to argue against adding MAN back into the lexicon -- we have more than enough three-letter acronyms to be going on with.

But anyone who has had experience back in the day with metropolitan area networks could always consider adding that to their resume, although if you're willing to publicly proclaim yourself a storage expert then getting a job probably shouldn't be that difficult anyway.

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