Fujitsu makes storage play

Armed with technology that may have the potential to turn storage virtualization into the storage market's long-awaited "killer app," this week Fujitsu Ltd. will announce the launch of a storage software company called Softek, according to Steven F. X. Murphy, president of Amdahl Software Corp., a division of Fujitsu.

The announcement will also include details of a technology and distribution partnership with storage virtualization maestro DataCore Software, according to an industry source.

Softek will inherit Amdahl's war chest of popular storage management technology and will release a new suite of upgraded storage applications targeted at enterprise-level environments such as financial institutions, storage service providers, and the service industry, Murphy said.

The Softek storage applications cover the whole gamut of storage routines, from data migration to backup, and include a virtualization product dubbed Softek Storage Virtualization, which can provide policy-based management to any storage device in a virtualized network, regardless of vendor, Murphy said.

"That's the key. Currently there is no central way to manage [mixed-vendor virtual storage] from a policy perspective," explained Chuck Standerfer, a senior partner at Evaluator Group, an industry analysis company in Englewood, Colorado.

Storage virtualization products have been popularized by the industry for their ability to pool large groups of storage devices into one or more "virtual disks." With current techniques, allocating data across several virtual disks has been easy in a single storage vendor network or across commodity disks.

But virtualizing a multivendor storage environment requires a separate user interface for each vendor's devices.

The Softek Storage Virtualization product will use "the underpinning foundation code and procedures" of nearly every brand-name storage vendor to not only virtualize a multivendor storage environment but also apply policy-based management to every storage system in the network, regardless of whether it is from EMC, Compaq, IBM or Hewlett-Packard, the industry source said.

With Softek Storage Virtualization, companies will be able to virtualize their storage networks. As the storage networks grow, companies will essentially be able to "shop for the lowest price drives, substituting HP drives for EMC if the price is better," the source said.

"Does EMC like this concept of virtualization? I guess not, they have a lot to lose," said Arun Taneja, a senior analyst at The Enterprise Storage Group. "If I can take storage that is one-fifth the price and I can create large pools, even larger than the ones I can create from an EMC box today, I have a serious advantage," he added.

Adding storage capacity is a never-ending proposition for many companies; so keeping storage costs down through virtualization while at the same time being able to manage the entire storage pool via a single interface is critical, Standerfer said.

"It's the difference between the ability of a company to grow and meet the demand for storage and not meet the demand for storage," Evaluator's Standerfer said.

The Enterprise Storage Group's Taneja said nearly 10 vendors, including IBM, Compaq, and storage software magnate Veritas Software, are currently working on virtualization products similar to Softek's. Although Softek stands to be first to market with its solution, it's still anybody's game, according to Taneja.

"This space is very hot right now," said Taneja, who believes network administrators should be able to move data across servers and storage devices regardless of their characteristics.

"That's a dream that's just beginning to come true [with intelligent virtualization]. It's great for the end-user community," Taneja said.

Combining its 30-year storage software and consulting heritage with a global IT infrastructure services focus, Amdahl will announce the availability of the InfraCare suite of services this week.

Offered in North America and Europe via a partnership with the Fujitsu Group, InfraCare will provide customers with a single point of contact for management and consultation services. The services will span IT infrastructure deployment, operations, and e-business integration, said Larry Fillmer, president of Amdahl IT Services.

Fillmer said Amdahl will offer InfraCare services customers ISO 9001 certification for quality management. It will also provide multienvironment integration of Unix, Windows NT, OS 390, and Linux operating systems. Providing IT infrastructure services similar to those provided by IBM Global Services and Electronic Data Systems (EDS), Amdahl is careful not to offer managed hosting or application infrastructure provisioning, said Bill Martorelli, vice president of e-services and sourcing at Hurwitz Group.

"[Amdahl] is not going heavily into the Web hosting area, and that's a focal point of e-business operations," said Martorelli. "[Amdahl] will have to strike a careful balance there."

One customer that has set up a co-location center with Amdahl is @Outcome, a developer of Internet-based infrastructure applications for the health care industry. The company chose Amdahl for its IT infrastructure operation primarily because of its global service delivery capability, said @Outcome Chairman and CEO William Cowan.

"Our customers want to take their solutions into a global marketplace," Cowan said. "One thing that really attracted us to Amdahl was their global presence and infrastructure overseas."

Automating virtual storage

Softek's ultimate strategy is to offer automated, policy-based storage management based on advanced storage virtualization techniques using a three-step implementation plan.

* Rethink storage priorities along the lines of business priorities.

* Implement software virtualization across all storage devices, regardless of vendor origin.

* Apply policy-based automation to that virtual storage environment via a single user interface.

Source: Fujitsu Software Technology

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