Storage vendors boost capacity and connectivity

Storage area network devices are moving to support storage over IP standards set up by Internet Engineering Task Force

Dueling network protocols, soaring capacities and better software distinguish the storage market this year.

Storage area network products are beginning to support the Internet SCSI, or iSCSI, standard ratified by the Internet Engineering Task Force in February.

The storage over IP standard competes with Fibre Channel connectivity that SAN vendors have been using for several years.

QLogic Corp.'s SANbox 2-64 Fibre Channel switch is configured as a 16-port base unit with add-on eight-port blades, for a maximum of 64 ports in a 7-inch-high unit. The modular fabric switch averages about $1,000 per port, said Gary Sims, a senior systems engineer for the Aliso Viejo, Calif., company.

QLogic makes both switches and host bus adapters, which serve as the interfaces between servers and Fibre Channel networks.

Double-Take 4.2 software from NSI Software of Hoboken, N.J., does byte-level replication in Microsoft Windows Server environments. It copies data from a source server to an offsite server, and it monitors the source server to failover if necessary.

The application was designed for broadly distributed environments without dedicated IT personnel, said Jason Buffington, NSI Software's director of business continuity. Replication makes it easier to gather data from remote sites to a central location, he said.

Central storage

LeftHand Networks Inc. of Boulder, Colo., designs IP-based SANs, which can centralize block-level storage at lower cost than Fibre Channel networks, regional sales manager Kelley Osburn said.

LeftHand's Network Storage Module 100 consists of a 1.75-inch-high rackmount unit with four hot-swappable disk drives, motherboard, processor and Gigabit Ethernet card plus the company's Distributed Storage Matrix software, which handles storage virtualization, failover and scheduled snapshots. It lists from about $15,000.

Ron Robinson, southeast region territory manager for Zzyzx Peripherals Inc. of San Diego, said his company's Fibre Channel RAID arrays for SANs can store up to 36T.

Fujitsu Software Technology Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has a new module called Provisioner for its Softek Storage Manager software, federal director Douglas C. Mee said.

Provisioner automates certain IT management decisions, Mee said.

For example, once Microsoft Exchange Server storage is occupying 80 percent of capacity, Provisioner can be set to reallocate resources or to notify the administrator to reclaim disk space. A Provisioner license costs about $10,000 for two storage domain servers, Mee said.

Sanrad Inc. of Alameda, Calif., makes iSCSI switches to connect Fibre Channel SANs to TCP/IP networks. Zophar Sant', Sanrad's vice president for market development, said iSCSI can extend SAN storage to a large number of clients.

The company's iSCSI Virtualization Switch 3000 connects a host system to a SAN, and its management software lets the administrator build a virtual pool of storage, Sant' said. The switch costs $10,000 to $25,000 depending on configuration.

Consensys Corp. of Universal City, Texas, makes network-attached storage using hot-swappable ATA drives, spokesman Colin Maher said.

Consensys' NAS systems are commonly configured at RAID Level 5 but can also handle RAID Levels 0, 1 and 10.

The company's RaidZone Gangstor RC8-2 NAS server has eight 250G drives, two 2.6-GHz Intel Xeon processors and 1G of RAM. List price is $29,950 for a pair of rackmount servers.

Another Consensys product, RaidZone Wirespeed, is a network storage server with all drives connected to a 400-megabyte/sec PCI-X bus. The first eight of its 15 drives have the root file system striped across them for redundancy.
A Wirespeed RW15 with 3T of disk space and two Gigabit Ethernet interface cards lists for $24,995.
Spinnaker Networks Inc. of Pittsburgh makes large-scale NAS servers. Jeff Hornung, vice president of marketing and business development, said the SpinServer 3300 dual-processor server connects to a SpinStor RAID Level 5 unit for up to 22T of data. The NAS servers can be clustered into a single file system of 11,000T.

For many backup and archive functions, tape libraries still function well, and vendors offer both Super Digital Linear Tape and Linear Tape Open formats.

Count the cartridges

Exabyte Corp.'s Magnum20 midrange tape library holds up to 148 LTO cartridges for nearly 30T of capacity, said Kristoffer Brown, an account manager for the Boulder, Colo., company.

With last fall's acquisition of DLT manufacturer Benchmark Storage Innovations Inc., Quantum Corp. of Milpitas, Calif., is betting on the longevity of DLT and Super DLT storage.

The company is selling both its original Super DLT products and the Value SDLT line acquired from Benchmark, said Steven Berens, Quantum's senior product marketing director.

Quantum's newest product is the SDLT 600 tape drive, which has a firmware management agent to detect problems, such as attempting to compress already compressed data.

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