HP, Brocade To Combine Forces For Storage Virtualization

For its part, HP plans to put an end to the in-band vs. out-of-band technology debate by combining the features of the two, said Mark Sorenson, vice president of HP's storage software.

Brocade, meanwhile, plans to integrate the virtualization capabilities it acquired when it purchased Rhapsody Networks last November, said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of product management at Brocade.

When HP merged with Compaq, it brought together HP's in-band virtualization technology, which HP acquired in July 2001 as a result of its $350 million purcahse of StorageApps, and Compaq's out-of-band VersaStor technology, which the latter vendor developed in-house, and combined them under a single manager, said Sorenson.

Since then, HP has unveiled Continuous Access Storage Appliances (CASAs) using the StorageApps technology and has been moving to integrate some of the VersaStor technology to the CASA, making it a hybrid blend of in-band and out-of-band technology, Sorenson said.

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The CASA sits between the hosts and heterogeneous storage devices in a SAN in such a way that all IO information is routed through the appliance, with the CASA presenting the LUNs (logical unit numbers) of the storage devices to the hosts. The CASA supports more than 90 percent of the storage devices in the market today, said Sorenson.

HP is adding a number of technologies, which it developed under VersaStor, to the CASA, said Sorenson. These include a command and control center for storage virtualization and an agent software to translate logical storage to physical storage to keep track of day-to-day changes in the data and to update the storage mapping table, he said. The result is to allow data controlled by the CASA to be routed by Fibre Channel switches for remote replication, he said.

The resulting blend of technologies can be used to upgrade existing CASAs as well as in new appliances, both of which can be added to existing SAN infrastructures, Sorenson said.

That is where Brocade comes in. The former Rhapsody had developed switches with technology that allowed storage volumes to be accessed by multiple servers, allowing data mirroring between remote data centers and data replication across sites and between arrays from nonlike vendors.

Brocade is now adding those capabilities to its Silkworm switches via the Brocade Silkworm Fabric Application Platform, said Buiocchi. That application platform will be VersaStor-aware to allow HP's SAN capabilities to be seamlessly extended across a new or existing SAN with no need to rip and replace existing equipment, he said.

Both the addition of VersaStor technology to the CASA and the integration of Rhapsody technology into Brocade switches are expected to enter beta testing this summer and ship by year-end, said Sorenson. "CASA is shipping today," he said. "Now we are showing how we can extend that [with VersaStor and Brocade]. %85 I think we have all our ducks lined up to take the market by storm."