Storage Gear Takes The Spotlight


Storage vendors from IBM and Dell to McData and Brocade on Monday showed off their newest hardware and software at Storage Networking World, the trade show and conference that runs in Orlando, Fla. through Thursday.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, for instance, used the expo to roll out revamped storage automation and virtualization technologies in its next generation IBM TotalStorage Open Software series. Among the new titles are IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller v1.2.1, virtual machine software that adds support for EMC's Symmetrix DMX Series to earlier support for HP's arrays and IBM's TotalStorage systems. San Volume Controller now also doubles the maximum cluster size to eight nodes and quadruples the number of supported virtual disks (to 4,096 virtual disks per cluster), said IBM.

"[This] extends our lead in storage virtualization and automation," said Laura Sanders, the vice president of IBM's TotalStorage Open Software group, in a statement.

IBM also updated TotalStorage SAN File System to version 2.2, added new integration features to its TotalStorage Productivity Center, and produced a major upgrade of Tivoli Storage Manager. The latter, which shifted to version 5.3, sports a new graphical interface and administrative center, and boosts backup and recovery times.

Direct dealer Dell, meanwhile, touted a $300,000 solution it's pitching to mid-sized enterprises for automatic data fail-over and recovery between data centers separated by large distances. Using systems in both Texas and Ireland, Dell's pushing Asynchronous Data Replication, a technology that relies on standard IP networks rather than pricier Fibre Channel for site-to-site mirroring, fail-over, and recovery.

One of the vendors partnering with Dell in that demo, McData, also announced enhanced versions of its Enterprise Operating System (E/OS) and SANavigator at Storage Networking World. E/OS, now at 7.0, include new features that validate the identity of any device before it's allowed to join the storage fabric and additional tools for troubleshooting storage networks or individual devices. McData's SANavigator, management software for heterogeneous storage networks, has been bumped up to v. 4.2, and now includes a group configuration tool for automating chores across multiple storage arrays and a feature dubbed "Call Home" that lets storage servers automatically dial into a support center to report developing problems. SANavigator has also added support for new devices, such as switches, from vendors like Cisco and Brocade.

Louisville, Colo.-based StorageTek took advantage of the storage get-together to preview upcoming hardware, including its FlexLine 600 series and its VSM Open disk-based virtual tape backup system. FlexLine, which is based on the company's BladeStore product family, uses Serial ATA drives that scale in increments of 500GB per blade, and come in at a 3 terabyte entry point. VMS Open, meanwhile, will initially be offered in a 4 terabytes minimum configuration and scale to 44 terabytes as a disk replacement for tape media.

Another big name in storage, Brocade, debuted version 4.4 of its Brocade Fabric Operating System (Fabric OS), the core software for its popular SilkWorm SAN switches and directors. The new OS, said Brocade, now transfers data at faster speeds over longer distances -- up to 32Gbit/sec at distances of roughly 8 kilometers, with individual link distances of 500 kilometers -- increased port density for greater scalability, and improved security. Networks can be scaled to as many as 50 domains, said Brocade, with the new OS, which supports up to 10,000 ports when combined with the SilkWorm Multiprotocol Router.

Also as Storage Networking World, AppIQ released a new version of its AppIQ StorageAuthority SAN manager that now supports several additional operating systems -- including Windows 2003 Server, Sun's Solaris, HP-UX, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- as well as more hardware, ranging from HP StorageWorks XP arrays to newer Cisco SAN switches like the MDS 9000 Series.

And Computer Associates unveiled a new option for its BrightStor ARCserve Backup Enterprise that ties the backup snapshot technology within HP, Hitachi, and EMC storage arrays with Microsoft Windows 2003 Server's Volume Shadow Copy Service. The option, which CA claimed will let companies implement and manage the nearly instantaneous backup and recovery offered by snap-shot technology, will be extended to other storage maker's platforms in the future.