Compaq beefs up storage area networks

Compaq Computer attempted to shore up its position in the mushrooming storage area network (SAN) market last week, unveiling solutions for disaster-resistant storage.

The solutions build on Compaq's existing Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) and are aimed at making storage options more flexible while reducing their complexity, Compaq officials said.

Among the products is StorageWorks, which contains a Fibre Channel switch that allows users to configure scalable SAN solutions that can span an enterprise. StorageWorks also offers disaster protection via better long-distance data replication, according to company officials.

Compaq also rolled out updated disaster-tolerant software called StorageWorks Data Replication Manager, which is designed to ensure data integrity in the case of a power outage or natural disaster at a data centre.

The company also introduced a beefier SAN-based backup solution for Windows NT and NetWare users.

"I think the introduction of Fibre Channel switch technology and peer-to-peer remote copy software are significant steps in helping customers build SANs right now," said John McArthur, a storage analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Compaq's StorageWorks Enterprise Storage Array 12000 (ESA12000) and RAID Array 8000 (RA8000) are designed primarily for commercial enterprise applications and provide users with a way to centralise management.

Users can configure scalable SANs with StorageWorks RA8000 and ESA12000 solutions and new eight-port and 16-port Fibre Channel switches that permit thousands of connections. As the SAN multiplies in size, its overall performance increases with every 100MBps Fibre Channel device that is added, company officials said.

The switches make it possible for customers to create duplicate sites as far as 6.2 miles away for disaster protection. These switches also provide enterprise-level SAN management features such as device and fault isolation, enhanced error reporting, and diagnostics for high availability.

A 400Gigabit switched fabric SAN using a StorageWorks RA8000 system and a StorageWorks Fibre Channel eight-port switch is priced starting at $US105,000. Prices for a 1-terabyte and 5-terabyte switched fabric SAN using a StorageWorks ESA12000 system and a StorageWorks Fibre Channel 16-port switch start at $192,500 and $738,000, respectively.

List prices for the Enterprise Backup Solution (excluding software) range from $69,000 with the DLT 15 Library Model 35/70 to $200,000 with a fully configured TL895 tape library.

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