Wrapping up SNW Spring

After reading through four weeks' worth of columns on the subject, my editor offered what's probably the best description of SNW (Storage Networking World) Spring 2005: "This has been a heckuva show."

Indeed it has been, but the relentless pace of the storage market urges everyone to move on and face new events and new upcoming products. Before we move on, though, let me acknowledge a few other worthy solutions presented at the show.

Data protection was certainly popular at SNW, which is not surprising because safely storing data has always been this industry's primary mission. However, in the last few years, taking extra data-protection steps (such as doing remote or local replicas) has moved from the realm of the storage elite -- the multimillion-dollar customers -- to midtier and entry-level installations.

Perhaps this is because of the backup lessons learned on tragic Sept. 11, 2001; perhaps also because the market has naturally evolved. Whatever the reason, the ability to do remote replicas has become one of the most common items on customers' checklists.

"That's the second thing [customers] ask me," said Zophar Sante, Sanrad's vice president of market development, when I asked him what motivated the company to add remote replicas to its IP SAN solution.

When I ask him what the first thing is that customers ask for, Sante thinks for a second. "If it works," he replies with a smile.

A similar motivation must have played into Adaptec's decision to add the Snap EDR (Enterprise Data Replicator) to its Snap servers' software (another first shown at SNW). Don't let its name confuse you: Although the application has to be deployed on a Snap server, it protects data across any Linux, Unix, or Windows machine.

Disk backup is another good example of an advanced data-protection technique that has trickled down from the exclusive top-tier customers to the midtier layer. In fact, Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC), a company you probably already know for its tape libraries and Pathlight VX 650 disk-based backup solution, just announced a new model of the appliance aimed at the midtier.

The new appliance -- which should be shipping by now -- is similarly named Pathlight VX 450 and simulates as many as 20 tape drives while offering a total capacity of just a little more than 4TB.

ADIC promises to maintain the same seamless interaction with tape libraries and backup applications on this smaller model, and it will crank the disk portion of backups at a speedy half-terabyte per hour. If you already have or plan to buy ADIC libraries, the Pathlight VX 450 appliance is certainly worth considering.

Have I exhausted my reporting of what I saw or was introduced to at SNW? Hardly so: I still have untold stories from Cisco, LSI Logic, Maxxan, McData, PMC Sierra, and others. But it's time to move on and perhaps put some of these great solutions we mentioned to the test -- which is, after all, always the best way to report on storage.

Mario Apicella is a senior analyst at the InfoWorld Test Center.

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