COMDEX : SAN management dominates floor show

As storage area networks (SANs) grow, managing them becomes difficult. A number of new hardware and software products announced at Comdex are focused on managing SANs.

These are among the SAN announcements at the conference this week:

- Prisa Networks introduced Visual SAN, a software-based SAN management and analysis software. The software has two components: the VisualSAN Network Manager and the VisualSAN Performance Manager. The VisualSAN Network Manager maps SAN architecture and logs SAN events in real time. The VisualSAN Performance Manager analyses network performance on a SAN and pinpoints performance problems via user-definable parameters. The VisualSAN suite is used to analyse and troubleshoot problems affecting performance on a SAN.

"VisualSAN is targeted at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and storage service providers (SSPs)," said Ted Chen, executive vice president at Prisa Networks, adding that it would be available by the end of this year.

US-based Prisa Networks can be reached at www.prisa.com.

- UK-based Xyratex introduced three hardware-based SAN analysers for desktops, notebooks and portable devices. Devices connect to SAN components and performance of Fiber Channel SANs is monitored and analysed. The SAN analysers conduct hardware-based SAN analysis and use software to translate the analysis on-screen.

Hardware-based SAN analysers are better than software-based ones, said Neil Edmunds, senior technical officer at Xyratex, because hardware is more reliable than software. He also said hardware-based SAN analysers don't exist on a network as an address, but as a component.

Xyratex can be reached at www.xyratex.com.

- Sony unveiled the DTF-2 Tape Drive for SANs. The tape drive can accommodate 200GBs of uncompressed data, and 500GBs of compressed data. "This is the fastest tape drive in the market today," claimed a spokesman at Sony's booth. He said the device is available now and interoperates with other SAN devices.

Tokyp-based Sony can be contacted at www.sony.co.jp.

- CMD Technology demonstrated its Titan family of redundant array of independent disks (RAID) controllers - the CRD 7400 Fibre Channel to Fibre Channel RAID controller and the CRD 7040 Ultra 160 SCSI RAID controllers.

CRD 7400 has mirror-cached imaging, nondisruptive online firmware updates, online RAID level migration and RAID set expansion.

Using the latest SCSI technologies, CMD claims Ultra160 SCSI can give rates of up to 160Mbps, faster than the latest 1Gbps Fibre Channel. Also contained with the RAID controllers is RAID management software, which configures and manages the controllers.

US-based CMD Technology can be reached at www.cmd.com.

- To ensure interoperability between SAN components, the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) initiated the SANmark qualification program on October 18, which subjects SAN products to a suite of conformance tests to ensure a product is interoperable with other components, be it hardware like network switches or hubs, or software that maps and manages a SAN. Twenty-three products were subjected to the SANmark test, of which 23 passed.

The Fibre Channel Industry Association can be reached at www.fibrechannel.org.

-- Agilent Technologies introduced its new PCI to Fibre Channel Host Bus adaptor (HBA), the HHBA-5220-1. The HBA adaptor is capable of transferring data up to 2Gbps. The product is an upgrade to the HHBA-5220, which can transfer data up to 200Mbps in half duplex mode, and 400Mbps in full duplex mode.

Agilent can be reached at www.agilent.com.

- SerComm , a server appliance provider, introduced its SOHO Server, a network attached storage (NAS) device targeted at home networks. The SOHO Server aims to act as a hub, a single storage device connecting multiple home devices that include standalone PCs, tape drives and modems.

Taiwan-based SerComm can be reached at www.sercomm.com.

- SAN Valley Systems introduced the SL1000 SAN over IP (Internet Protocol) device, which creates an end-to-end data tunnel over an IP network, ensuring error-free data transfer. While transferring data over an IP network, the SL1000 component on one end converts the data into a packet that is okayed by the SL1000 component attached to the SAN component on the other end.

SAN Valley doesn't buy the notion that transferring data from a server to tape backup over an IP network will mean the tape drive is filled with data errors. Some vendors at Comdex are contending that IP is an error-prone protocol.

"Things are needed to enhance IP, and manufacturers don't realise that," said Sandy Helton, co-founder and chief executive office of San Valley. "Quality of Service (QoS) exists, it just has to be used" to enhance the experience of transferring data over an IP network, he said.

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