StorageNetworking World Spotlights IP Storage, Security

Even though the iSCSI specifications are still a few months from being finalized, Cisco Systems unveiled an upgrade to its SN 5420 storage router to offer improved security, reliability and manageability.

The firmware upgrade for the router now enables it to offer such security features as authentication and virtual LAN support, the latter of which allows multiple servers to physically share the same storage network resources but have access to only designated devices, said Doug Ingram, senior manager of marketing for the company.

Solution providers or clients can now cluster up to four of the routers, compared with two previously. New drivers allow iSCSI to work with the router in HP-UX and IBM AIX environments, in addition to the Windows, Solaris and Linux support previously available, said Ingram. The router is now certified as interoperable with IBM's Shark array and Legato NetWorker version 6.1 storage management software, he said.

The lack of a finalized standard for iSCSI should not be considered a stumbling block toward the integration of iSCSI into real-world environments, said Ingram. "We [vendors have all been working together to make some products come to market at the same [specification draft level," he said. "Also, when the IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force comes out with a new draft, 40 or so vendors get together to make sure it works together. . . . Cisco then has software upgrades to its products when the final standard is out."

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Several iSCSI vendors got together at the show to demonstrate interoperability of their iSCSI products. Among the vendors were Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Hitachi Data Systems, Nishan Systems and Veritas Software.

Tom Clark, storage networking author and director of technical marketing for Nishan, said there are still many questions regarding performance, availability, interoperability and application compatibility related to IP storage protocols such as iSCSI and iFCP. Interoperability demonstrations are aimed to ease such worries, he said.

Nishan is kicking off its own series of live seminars around the country with storage array partners such as Hitachi and XIOtech to address customers' and solution providers' concerns, said Clark. The company is also offering a series of Web-based seminars addressing the same issues, he said.

Nishan's presentations will show performance, edge-of-network capabilities, long-distance connectivity and security in real-world settings, Clark. "We can use off-the-shelf components to provide very high levels of security," he said.

Auspex Systems showed its new NSc3000 SAN-to-NAS gateway, a storage controller that plugs into a Fibre Channel switch and allows the host to look at any storage device on the other side of the switch.

The result is the ability to see and communicate with multiple heterogeneous SAN pools, said Mark Amelang, director of marketing for the vendor. The controller provides file security and file sharing across multiple operating systems.

The new controller connects to both NAS and SAN systems, including Auspex's own NAS appliances, said Amelang. It includes two JNI Corp. Fiber Channel host bus adapters on one side and a standard Gigabit Ethernet connector on the front. To the server, the SAN to which the NSc3000 is connected looks like a single NAS storage pool, he said.

The NSc3000 is priced between $30,000 and $45,000, depending on software functionality, and is available via such distributors as Bell Micro, XWave in Canada, and oil and gas industry distributor Unique Digital.