3Par simplifies Fibre Channel

Inventive storage startup 3ParData Inc. on Monday will officially launch a new storage product designed to supplant mammoth Fibre Channel arrays built by companies such as EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems Corp.

Targeted at the enterprise, 3Par's InServ Storage Servers are modular systems with hundreds of Fibre Channel ports designed to connect to and manage multiple, mixed vendor Fibre Channel storage arrays from a single command console, according to David Scott, president and CEO of 3Par, based in Fremont, Calif.

And while InServ is an enterprise-class storage system with scalable capacity in excess of 376TB, the systems allows users to start small if they choose.

"You can start small, and in a more granular, less-expensive way, you can scale out the infrastructure," said Scott, who added that 3Par will leverage InServ's "start small" capability as a way to get in the door of large enterprises wishing to test the system.

"If companies want, they can just install it as a small backup server, and once it's proved itself, or as EMC systems come off their lease, they'll find it's cheaper to add capacity with 3Par," said Scott.

Expected to arrive in the third quarter of 2002, InServ can modularly scale from 94TB to 376TB, with as much as 4000 MBps transfer rate and the ability to sustain up to 100,000 IOPS for typical OLTP transactions, according to 3Par.

InServ's modular design lets users pack as many as ten disk modules -- each with room for four disk drives -- in a 4U (7-inch) chassis, stacking four chassis in a cabinet, with a ceiling of 2,560 drives. Each component can be hot-replaced without affecting other activities, according to 3Par.

3Par's operating system, InForm, offers administrative features such as volume management, discrete of each component, control storage virtualization, and point-in-time copies, essentially removing storage administration burdens from servers' OSes. Future versions of InServ will allow remote, IP WAN-based mirroring, according to 3Par.

"3Par is a blueprint that the large storage vendors should be looking at very closely," said Jamie Gruener, a senior analyst at Yankee Group in Boston. "It has a modular approach, and you can scale, and I think that's essentially what a lot of people are striving to do at the large system layer."

Additionally, Gruener believes that InServ will find a home not only within companies struggling to get better control of their storage networks, but also within companies looking to build a simple and reliable storage network from scratch.

"It really appeals to both those who have deployed SANs, and those who have not. And the reason is the manageability factor. They do a lot better job in handling utilization, handling the provisioning of the storage, and really handling the ongoing capitalization of storage," said Gruener.

Partially validating the company for the enterprise, major vendors such as Oracle Corp., Veritas Software Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. have each put their support behind 3Par's InServ, according to Scott.

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