Commentary: InfiniBand won't preclude proprietary products

InfiniBand is a legitimate attempt at a least-common-denominator standard for network interconnection, but InfiniBand partners are not particularly willing to give up their proprietary products.

2 min read
By Thomas Henkel, Gartner Analyst

Major IT companies such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard are truly interested in developing improved, standard interconnection technology. This technology may make it easier and less expensive to design network interoperability with other computers and devices.

See news story:
New InfiniBand technology to remake servers--eventually

InfiniBand is a legitimate attempt to promote a least-common-denominator standard for network interconnection.

At the same time, the InfiniBand partners are not particularly willing to give up control over their proprietary products, such as high-availability clustering environments. The various partners also have their own "standards" they promote to the industry, such as Sun's Jini and Hewlett-Packard's E-speak, which they hope will provide some level of market advantage.

Each of the companies involved in InfiniBand--and probably some of the ones not involved--will continue to make products and technologies to differentiate themselves.

InfiniBand will provide basic interoperability, but companies will develop proprietary hardware, operating systems and other software infrastructure to run on top. Some will offer credible added value and, in doing so, will create potential incompatibilities and exclusivity dilemmas for customers.

InfiniBand is still two years away from offering any meaningful connectivity. Most likely, it will be 2004 before a preponderance of devices in the field support the InfiniBand standard, out of which enterprises can build a useful environment.

Therefore, InfiniBand could become an important must-have feature in about three years, but Gartner cautions that a company's commitment to standards can be transitory and subject to changing market conditions.

(For related commentary on interconnection technology, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

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