Vendors including HP and Brocade are to unveil technology that is designed to support increased interoperability between storage devices at Storage Networking World Fall 2003 this week.

Brocade will announce a Fibre Channel-to-Fibre Channel router for connecting separate SANs installed across office campuses. The router will also give systems administrators the ability to configure ports for the iSCSI and Fibre Channel-over-IP protocols, according to Dave Stevens, the company's VP of alliances.

The 16-port device uses Brocade's proposed Fabric Application Interface specification to act as a translator between SANs so they can share storage and server resources, Stevens said. The router is due in the first half of 2004.

In another integration-related move, HP plans to announce an initiative aimed at ensuring interoperability between Brocade's storage switches and SAN directors and rival devices made by Cisco and McData. HP resells products from all three vendors.

Steve Jerman, a storage management architect at HP's storage software division, said the company is running tests to ensure that its switch partners fully conform to the Fibre Channel standard.

By January, HP plans to release a set of free design rules that will give users a step-by-step guide to the configurations that are needed to achieve interoperability between Brocade and McData switches. Information about Cisco's devices should be added shortly after that, HP said.

"What happens is a lot of the manufacturers want to put added-value things on their switches," Jerman said. "We're getting those companies to follow those standards exactly."

Gary Pilafas, senior storage and systems architect at United Airlines (UAL), said he expects to see greater integration of products through the Storage Management Interface Specification, a set of APIs and protocols that let storage management tools control storage devices made by different vendors.

Pilafas uses storage resource management software from CreekPath Systems to access detailed information about the SAN at UAL Loyalty Services, which manages the airline's Web site and frequent-flier programmes. "Tools like that become more powerful as these companies open up their APIs," Pilafas said.