Legato unveils storage area nets strategy

Legato Systems yesterday unveiled its Information Utility storage area network (SAN) strategy and announced partnerships aimed at boosting that nascent market.

The initiative is designed to allow heterogeneous enterprises to operate SANs, which provide faster backup, less network congestion and improved use of storage systems. Various other vendors participated in the press conference and demonstration in San Jose, California, which also was relayed via a teleconference.

The initiative involves products already available on the market and incorporates various technologies Legato obtained through acquisitions, company officials said. The initiative emphasises the need for scaleability, interoperability across various operating system platforms and "self-healing storage" with close monitoring and management of the network.

"We need real solutions beyond the hype," said Scott McIntyre, business line manager for Legato.

The SAN concept is relatively new and involves migrating traditional storage modes, such as online disk and tape library systems, from legacy SCSI (small computer systems interface) architecture to fibre channel networks relying on switches and hubs.

SANs are likely to develop just as local area networks developed, starting with homogeneous "islands of data" operating without standards but evolving into a standardised area with focus on the network, said Nora Denzel, Legato senior vice president.

She and others speaking at the press conference said that there is a distance to go to achieve heterogeneous SANs because hardware vendors all want to support proprietary products that don't interoperate. Legato, though, can bridge the distance, she said.

"We're really the Switzerland of storage management," Denzel said, referring to what company officials and partners indicated is a decided neutrality toward platforms.

During a question-and-answer session, Dataquest Inc. analyst Kim Brown asked Legato officials about the "brewing standards war" involving competing groups proposing Next Generation Input/Output (NGIO) architecture and how that might affect the SAN initiative and development of that market.

Denzel insisted that the NGIO dispute, which has pitted major vendors against each other, will not be detrimental because that new architecture won't be ready until some point in the future and in the meantime SANs need to be pushed along.

These are among the partnerships that will play a role in the Information Utility initiative: ATL Products, Box Hill Systems, 3Com, Advanced Digital Information, Data General, Exabyte, Gadzoox Networks, Compaq Computer, and QLogic.

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