Data mover misses mark

Don't get me wrong; I think that SANgate Systems is onto something. Ijust don't think the vendor takes it far enough.

The Southborough, Mass.-based company recently announced a new approachfor making its data migration tool available. The tool, calledSANblaster S1000 and shipping for just a few months, is an appliancethat migrates data among SCSI and Fibre Channel-based systems that rununder Sun Solaris or Windows NT. (Support for more platforms, includingHewlett-Packard's HP-UX and IBM's AIX, will be available soon, accordingto Tom Grave, SANgate's product marketing manager.)Mostly, SANblaster is about moving data from one storage environment toanother when customers implement new arrays and the like. It's ahigh-speed migration device that promises to get the project donesooner. As an appliance, the SANblaster is rolled in when the customerneeds it and rolled out when the job is done.

At this point, SANgate is targeting systems integrators and VARs as theappliance's primary customers. SANgate is hoping that these companies,in turn, will implement SANblaster at end-user organizations. And so thecompany recently announced a partner program that makes the deviceavailable on a per-usage basis - for VARs and systems integrators only -at rates beginning at $3,000 per month for a small project.

So far, two systems integrators have signed on, with a couple more in"serious" talks, Grave said. The two already on board are CollectiveTechnologies in Austin, Texas, a "classic" systems integrator accordingto Grave, and Glasshouse Technologies Inc. in Framingham, Mass., whichdoes more of its work specific to storage, he said. Both have made thedecision to use SANblaster on a per-customer basis where needed.

This is a fine idea, but SANgate might think about making this type ofprogram available to end-user companies, too. After all, it's mostlylarge and medium-sized companies that are doing these kinds of projects,and many of these customers do not work through VARs or systemsintegrators. Some do, but not all. So this move wouldn't necessarily becompetitive to SANgate's existing VAR customers, though I certainlyunderstand any reluctance to make their current base unhappy.

Renting the SANblaster would be a great way for end-user organizationsto find out if the device really works well in a given environment - andif it works well enough to shell out the $60,000-plus purchase price.

That's fairly steep given today's economics, especially since there areother ways to approach the issue of data migration. Fujitsu, Veritas andNSI Software have offered host-based or mirroring-based migration toolsfor some time. Although SANgate's device is promised to be faster thanpure software alone, at speeds up to 1T-byte per hour, it does requiretaking storage systems offline to do the migration.

Especially since SANgate is marketing its device as a new way ofapproaching data migration, it would make sense to seed the market inthis way.

Grave said the company would consider making its appliance available toend-users on a per-use basis, but hasn't yet seen the demand.

In the meantime, the company is working on the next generation of theSANblaster, which will be an in-line device that's part and parcel ofthe SAN infrastructure, Grave explained. Where today's device is usedonly when it's needed, tomorrow's will be a permanent part of the SANarchitecture, used for data replication in applications includingdisaster recovery. Also promised is the ability to migrate mainframedata to open systems.

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