McData has come out with a new SAN router to connect the growing number of isolated SAN networks in corporations.

The Eclipse 2640 SAN Router is designed to consolidate storage and extend replication and backup services to enterprise branch offices and mid-size businesses. "We want to connect these different SAN islands to one another, making them one physical network," said Prasad Pammidimukkala, director of product management at McData. He added that the product will also help enable information lifecycle management by allowing companies to use SANs more effectively.

Because of rapidly falling prices and new record-keeping laws, the SAN enterprise market has been growing at a 30 percent annual rate, according to iSuppli.

McData's new router isolates SAN islands by consolidating them and high-speed, fault-tolerant connections over any distance between them. "We interconnect the various SANs with open standard interfaces and yet a fault in one SAN is not propagated to the other SANs," Pammidimukkala said.

The Eclipse 2640 SAN Router offers 12 Fibre Channel ports, four Ethernet/transmission control protocol ports, and a set of intelligent network and performance services. It also offers support for up to 50 iSCSI servers per port.

McData is not the only networking company to focus on SAN consolidation. Cisco offers its MDS line and Brocade has its 7420 router aimed at the same markets.

"SAN extension has become a big market and it will continue growing," said Dianne McAdam, senior analyst at Data Mobility Group. "Companies tend to view data as one large entity to be used and backed up, not as isolated pockets of data."

Cisco added two new products to its MDS 9000 line last week - the 9216i and the 9000 Multiprotocol Services Module, designed for the same market.