Network storage & SANs

Network storage & SANs<@VM>Fibre Channel switches and hubs support SANs of many sizes<@VM>Host bus adapters help keep that data moving<@VM>SAN software helps put all those files at your fingertips

Agencies are experiencing a boom in data needs;
read up on technology advances to meet the challenge

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

The year of the SAN has arrived, representing a milestone in storage technology with major implications for government agencies that need to turn terabytes of data into useful information for perhaps millions of users.

Gadzoox Networks' Gibraltar hubs, the six-port GL and the 12-port GS, provide full-duplex 2.215-Gbps speed. The GL is priced at $3,015; the GS at $4,359.

As the government continues to go paperless, the digitized data that information services departments must handle has grown to mammoth proportions. The first line of defense against total systems meltdown is storage technology, said Mark Vaccarino, director of system integration technologies for V-Squared, a federal application service provider in Ashburn, Va.

'Today's organizations require huge amounts of data storage, and the systems themselves must be highly scalable and upgradeable,' Vaccarino said. He agrees with other experts that storage area networks meet these criteria better than any other storage technology currently available. And he predicts SANs will account for the next big mass migration of government and private organizations to all-in-one storage environments.

In typical server-attached storage designs, storage arrays are tightly linked to servers. The design is effective when storage requirements are limited, but not very cost-effective or efficient when storage needs soar into the terabyte range because new servers must often be purchased to manage additional disk or tape storage devices.

Wide access

SANs provide access between servers and a pool of shared storage devices by utilizing 1-Gbps Fibre Channel links between devices'and 2-Gbps Fibre Channel is on the way. For information services departments, the big payoff from a SAN is that any user connected to any server on the network can gain access to information on any of the storage systems in the pool.

SANs free up server CPUs to perform other computing tasks. They also offer round-the-clock availability, with built-in redundancy for improved data security. And advanced software has made most SANs highly scalable.

SANs can be as simple or complex as your requirements dictate, but it helps to keep in mind the basic components that make them up.

Ancor Communications' SANbox-16HA supports all topologies with 1.0625-Gbps speed in a 16-port configuration. It's priced at $2,500.

Servers. In theory, any server can connect to a SAN, but mainline computer makers such as Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., IBM Corp. and Intel Corp. provide specialized SAN products.

Disk and tape storage systems. A SAN system could be a redundant array of independent disks, a loosely structured just-a-bunch-of-disks arrangement, a CD-ROM disk array or a tape library. Check with leading storage vendors such as Advanced Digital Information Corp., Dot Hill Systems Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co., Exabyte Corp or Storage Technology Corp. to see which of their products are SAN-enabled.

Hubs. If economy, rather than scalability, is your top priority, and you are setting up a fairly small SAN for workgroup service or for a small department, a Fibre Channel hub could provide an inexpensive solution.

Hubs offer a high degree of multivendor interoperability because in most cases physical addressing is transparent. Unmanaged hubs can be cost-effective in some situations, with a few products such as High Velocity System's Bullet 600 coming in at slightly less than $100 per port.

Virtually all hubs used in a SAN architecture support the Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) configuration, which provides an aggregated, or shared, bandwidth of 100 Mbps. Although FC-AL hubs can support up to 127 attached devices, far fewer are recommended in most cases to avoid conflicts that can dramatically slow data throughput.

QLogic's QLA2200 host bus adapter has a 64-bit PCI interface and is designed specifically for SAN environments. Prices range from $1,395 to $2,395.

The Fibre Channel hubs listed in the accompanying table include both managed and unmanaged versions, and generally support between five and eight ports with both DB-9 copper and gigabit interface converters (GBICs). Most of them come with LED indicators and diagnostics software to help isolate faulty ports and drop them from the loop before they bring a hub's performance to a halt.

In addition to service as backbone devices for small SANs, Fibre Channel hubs also can be used as low-cost companions to switches in complex, multitiered SAN designs.

Switches. Fibre Channel switches are a must for large SANs that store terabytes of information. Although many switches can provide both point-to-point and FC-AL configurations, high-end versions are nonblocking fabric switches. They guarantee full-speed data delivery regardless of traffic conditions and employ all or most of the Fibre Channel methods for linking nodes and routing frames in a multiswitch Fibre Channel network.

Vixel Corp.'s 7100 and 7200 switches are cost-effective entry-level models that can be upgraded to the company's full-fabric 8100 switches. Brocade Communications Systems Inc.'s SilkWorm 2000 family is similarly expandable, with the entry-level 2010 model supporting FC-AL configurations, and the high-end 2040 model supporting entry-level SAN fabrics. Both the 2010 and 2040 can be upgraded to the SilkWorm 2050, a robust device for multiswitch full SAN fabrics.

The FCE-6410 host bus adapter from JNI has a 64-bit PCI interface and supports all Fibre Channel topologies. Its price ranges from $895 to $1,095.

Virtually all switches can be managed with software from the switch manufacturer or from third parties.

Gadzoox Networks Inc.'s Capellix 2000 and 3000 switches are managed with the company's Ventana SAN Manager. Vixel supplies SAN InSite 2000 management software with its switches. Brocade installs its Fabric OS, which includes Fabric Watch for simplified SAN management and Extended Fabrics for extending SAN-to-SAN connectivity distances.

Most Fibre Channel switches come in eight- to 16-port versions. A few, such as McData Corp.'s 32-port ED-5000 and Ancor Communications Inc.'s SANbox-64/128, are director-class switches with high port densities that are designed to direct the activities of other switches and hubs in three-tier SAN architectures.

Host bus adapters. Like standard 10/100-Mbps Ethernet cards in other parts of a network, Fibre Channel host bus adapters are the essential elements of SAN systems. These small but necessary components go into the servers and other network hardware to make them part of the SAN.

In fabric configurations, host bus adapters provide a fabric log-on to initialize the servers and then scan the entire arbitrated loop to initialize the other devices on the SAN.

If data is being streamed from multiple storage pools into a particular server, the host bus adapters also perform context switching to help reduce traffic overhead.

When selecting the appropriate Fibre Channel host bus adapter, it's important to check for compatibility with host buses, such as PCI or MCA, operating systems and the types of connectors'DB-9 copper or GBIC optical'required. Although virtually all host bus adapters support full-duplex throughput of 100 Mbps, a few, such as Emulex Corp.'s LP8000DC and Interphase Corp.'s 5550 PowerSAN, are dual-channel cards that effectively double typical 1.0625-Gbps full-duplex data rates for high-throughput storage requirements.

QLogic Corp., which holds the leading share of the Fibre Channel host bus adapter market, and other leading companies such as JNI and Emulex provide robust suites of software drivers and remote configuration and management utilities to make their products suitable for service in just about any SAN.

Software is the tie that binds the collection of equipment making up a typical SAN. Most switch and hub vendors offer proprietary management software, and customers increasingly are looking for ways to manage heterogeneous SAN components.

The result is a ballooning market for storage management software, according to Dataquest, the San Jose, Calif. subsidiary of the GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn. The market research company recently reported that worldwide storage management software revenues were $4.2 billion last year, a 47 percent increase over 1998 revenue, and predicted that revenues will soar to $14.7 billion in 2004.

This guide includes more than 25 software products (see chart, Page 53) useful for managing a wide variety of SANs. Some, such as Data General Corp.'s Navisphere, Dot Hill's SANman suite and Gadzoox's Ventana, are designed primarily to manage each company's proprietary line of servers, switches or hubs.

Others are designed to meet more general storage requirements.

Computer Associates International Inc.'s ARCserveIT Enterprise Edition offers built-in SAN management capability via the company's Unicenter TNG Framework.

SANsymphony from DataCore Software Corp. provides enterprise-level network storage pooling across heterogeneous SAN components. It comes in both an entry-level Server Edition and a full-function Network Edition.

Hewlett-Packard's SureStore E SAN Manager comes in two flavors: DM provides centralized device management for a variety of manufacturers' hubs and switches; LM offers logical unit management of hundreds of host devices.

IBM, pre-eminent among providers of integrated SAN products with its own brand of servers and storage units, has Tivoli SANergy File Sharing, software that enables the sharing of SAN arrays, file systems and files across multiple systems. The company plans to release other SAN software products later this year.

The Storage Networking Industry Association, whose Web site is at, offers the following criteria to guide your selection of SAN management software:

Tips for buyers

' SANs represent the near future of network storage technology.

' Consider signing on with an application service provider or systems integrator if your SAN requirements are large.

' Fibre Channel is the preferred technology for SAN architectures.

' Good software is the key to SAN management.

' Buy your SAN components only from a recognized Fibre Channel hub, switch or host bus adapter manufacturer.

Configuration management. SAN software must account for a large number of components and a multitude of physical and logical relationships between them.

Performance management. Software should include the tools for providing a system-level view of overall SAN performance.

Software and firmware management. Software and firmware updates should be managed from a centralized station, and a generic mechanism should be provided to transport updates to components from different vendors.

Accounting or asset management. Capabilities such as standardized SAN resource identifiers containing asset information must be defined. The software should include a common mechanism to obtain asset information from SAN resources.

Cluster management. Managing SAN clusters requires robust solutions for workload management and a single point of control for the cluster's component systems. The software should support both data and storage management within and across clusters.

Security management. A centralized manager must become a trusted entity to manage isolated storage devices and zones.

Policy management. Examples of services that require policy are disaster recovery, backup, hierarchical storage management and archiving.

J.B. Miles of Pahoa, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers.

CompanyProductTypePort speedMedia connectorsManagementConfigurationDescriptionPrice
Ancor Communications Inc.
Eden Prairie, Minn.
SANbox-8Eight-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalSANsurfer, SNMP, TFTP, Telnet, SES, GS3Stackable, rackmountSupports all topologies including cascade, cascaded loop, mesh and multistage$1,995
SANbox-1616-port switchSameSameSameSameSame$2,400
SANbox-16HA16-port switchSameSameSameSameSame$2,500
SANbox-64/128 64 to 128-port switchSameSameSameSameSame, director-classAvailable in the fall
ATTO Technology Inc.
Amherst, N.Y.
FibreCenter 1100DFive-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalATTOView RMON, Intelligent Port ManagementStackable, rackmountFC-AL hub$1,195
FibreCenter 2100RFive-port hubSameSameSameRackmountSame$1,195
Brocade Communications Systems Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
SilkWorm 2010Eight-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalTelnet, SNMP, Brocade Web Tools, Brocade SESStackableEntry-level switch with FC-AL support$5,775 up
SilkWorm 2040 Eight-port switchSameSameSameStackableEntry-level fabric switch$5,775 up
SilkWorm 2050Eight-port switchSameSameSameStackableFull fabric switch$5,775 up
Cambex Corp.
Waltham, Mass.
FibreQuik HB2000Eight-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalUnmanagedStackableFC-AL hub$1,745
Emulex Corp.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
LH500010-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalHTML, Telnet, SNMPStackableConfigurable as single 10-port or separate dual five-port hub$2,527
LH1005Five-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalUnmanagedStackableFor workgroup service$1,295
Gadzoox Networks Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
Gibraltar GLSix-port hub2.215-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalVentana SAN Manager, optional IntraCom Management Module, Nomad Management ModuleStackableScalable managed hub$3,015
Gibraltar GS12-port hub SameCopper and opticalSameStackableScalable managed hub$4,359
Bitstrip TWNine-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalUnmanagedStackable, rackmountFC-AL hub$2,042
Capellix 2000Eight- to 11-port switchSameCopper and opticalVentana SAN Manager, SNMPStackableFC-AL switch $3,750
Capellix 3000Six- to 34-port switchSameCopper and opticalSameModularModular SAN switch with redundant hot-swappable power supply and fan options$7,995 up
High Velocity Systems
Danbury, Conn.
Bullet 600Six-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopperSNMP, SCSI-3 SESStackableFC-AL hub$594
McData Corp.
Broomfield, Colo.
ES-1000Eight-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalMcData EFC, SNMPRackmountEdge fabric switch$4,999
ED-500032-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalMcData EFC, SNMPRackmountDirector-class fabric switch$100,000 up
Storage Technology Corp.
Louisville, Colo.
StorageNet Switch 4108Eight-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalProprietaryRackmountConfigures to FC-AL and fabric devices$19,000 up
StorageNet Switch 411616-port switch SameCopper and opticalProprietaryRackmountSame$35,000 up
Systran Corp.
Dayton, Ohio
LX 150032-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalProprietaryModular, rackmountCrossbar hub that accepts up to eight modular port cards with up to four I/O ports per card$5,995 up
Vixel Corp.
Bothell, Wash.
Vixel 1000 HubSeven-port hub1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalUnmanagedStackable, rackmountFC-AL hub$1,795
Vixel 2000
Managed Hub
12-port hubSameCopper and opticalVixel SAN InSite, optional SNMP cardStackable, rackmountSame$4,800
Vixel 2006
Managed Hub
Six-port hubSameCopper and opticalSameStackable, rackmountSame$2,650
Vixel 2100 Zoning Managed HubEight-port hubSameCopper and opticalSameStackable, rackmountSupports four FC-AL links from a single hub$3,495
Vixel 7100Eight-port switchSameCopper and opticalVixel SAN InSite, Total Connectivity Management, SNMPStackable, rackmountFC-AL switch$6,995
Vixel 720016-port switchSameCopper and opticalSameStackable, rackmountFC-AL switch that interoperate with fabric switches$11,995
Vixel 8100Eight-port switchSameCopper and opticalSameStackable, rackmountFabric switch$8,495
Xiotech Corp.
Eden Prairie, Minn.
MagnitudeEight-port switch1.0625-Gbps, full-duplexCopper and opticalREDI Access, Copy, Control, PathModularTotal SAN environment that supports point-to-point, FC-AL and switched fabric topologies$60,000 up

VendorProductBus interfaceMedia connectorsOS supportFeaturesPrice
ATTO Technology Inc.
Amherst, N.Y.
ExpressPCI FC64/32-bit PCICopper and opticalWin9x, NT, Mac OSAdvanced Data Streaming technology supports SCSI over Fibre Channel; RAID kit available$995
ExpressPCI FC SW64/32-bit PCISameSameSame with short wave optical embedded physical interface$1,295
Cambex Corp.
Waltham, Mass.
FibreQuik PC100064-bit PCIOpticalAIX, NTSupports point-to-point, FC-AL and fabric loop connections$995
FibreQuik MC100064-bit MCACopper and optical AIXCompatible with leading FC hubs, RAID and other storage arrays$3,495
Emulex Corp.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
LP800064-bit PCICopper and opticalNT, Win 2000, Solaris, AIXSupports all Fibre Channel topologies$1,495 to $1,995
(Dual Channel)
64-bit PCISameSameSame$2,795 to $3,995
LP85064-bit PCISameNT, Win 2000Same$1,295 to $1,495
LP7000E32-bit PCISameNT, Win 2000, Solaris, AIXSame$1,995
Great River Technology Inc.
Albuquerque, N.M.
GRT-PCIFIBRE-V132-bit PCIOpticalWin9x, NTFibre Channel with video output$4,200
Interphase Corp.
5560 PowerSAN 2000 2Gbps PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCICopper and opticalN/AProvides full-duplex, 2-Gbps for 400-Mbps connectivity$1,595
5550 PowerSAN 2000 Dual PCI Fiber Channel Adapter64-bit PCISameN/ASupports all Fibre Channel topologies$1,795
5540 PowerSAN 2000 PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCISameN/ASame$995
5527 PowerSAN PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCISameN/AProvides simultaneous SCSI and IP network connectivity$1,495 to $1,895
5526 PowerSAN PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCISameN/ASame$1,395 to $1,495
San Diego
FCE-321032-bit PCICopper and opticalNT, Win 2000 Mac OSSupports all Fibre Channel topologies$745 to $995
FCE-641064-bit PCISameSameSame$895 to $1,095
FCE2-6410/641264-bit PCIOpticalNT, Win 2000, Linux, Mac OSSame with dual Fibre Channel connections$1,995 to $2,595
FC64-106364-bit SbusOpticalSolarisSupports all Fibre Channel topologies$3,275
Prisa Networks Inc.
San Diego
NetFX-PCI3232-bit PCICopper and opticalNTSupports all Fibre Channel topologies$2,199
QLogic Corp.
Aliso Viejo, Calif.
QLA210064-bit PCICopper and opticalNT, UnixWare, OS/2, Solaris, AIXMultiple media options$1,195 to $1,795
QLA220064-bit PCISameSameDesigned for SAN environments$1,395 to $2,395
Huntsville, Ala.
VMIPCI-5660 PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCICopper and opticalNT, VxWorks, LinuxSupports full-duplex, 200-Mbps in all Fibre Channel topologies$746 to $974
VMIPCI-5661 PCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCICopper and opticalSameSame$746 to $974
VMIPCI-5661 CompactPCI Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCISameSameSame$746 to $1,582
VMIPMC-5660 PMC Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCI MezzanineSameSameSame$946 to $1,588
VMIPMC-5661 PMC Fibre Channel Adapter64-bit PCI MezzanineSameSameSame$827 to $1,670

Advanced Digital Information Corp.

Redmond, Wash.

tel. 425-881-8004

CentraVision allows clients on heterogeneous networks to share files over SANs. It provides direct connection to shared SAN devices and supports SunSoft Solaris, Microsoft Windows NT and Linux clients.

Ancor Communications Inc.

Eden Prairie, Minn.

tel. 612-932-4000

SANsurfer is Web-based SAN management software that allows systems administrators to monitor and control SANs via the Internet or an intranet.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

San Jose, Calif.

tel. 408-487-8000

Fabric OS provides an intelligent infrastructure for
heterogeneous SAN components. It includes Fabric Watch for simplified SAN management and Extended Fabrics to extend SAN-to-SAN native Fibre
Channel connectivity from 10 kilometers to 100 kilometers.

Computer Associates International Inc.

Islandia, N.Y.

tel. 631-342-5224

ARCserveIT Enterprise Edition provides automated storage management for Microsoft Windows NT and Unix servers. It centrally manages all enterprisewide storage activities from a single networked or browser-equipped console and includes SAN management capability via the company's Unicenter TNG Framework.

CommVault Systems Inc.

Oceanport, N.J.

tel. 732-870-4000

Galaxy is a suite of SAN management products based on logical views of data rather than physical views. The software allows IT administrators to set policies, monitor events and seamlessly enhance the availability of information regardless of whether it is located on a server, LAN or SAN.

DataCore Software Corp.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

tel. 888-389-9273

SANsymphony is SAN management software that provides enterprise-level network storage pooling across heterogeneous SAN components. It's available in an entry-level Server Edition and a Network Edition for additional functionality and scalability.

Data General Corp.

Westborough, Mass.

tel. 508-898-5000

Navisphere Storage Management Software from Data General, a division on EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Mass., is a suite of centralized management and monitoring tools for all EMC Clariion storage systems.

Dot Hill Systems Corp.

Carlsbad, Calif.

tel. 760-931-5500

SANman is a software product line comprising SANscape and SANpath. SANscape is a management suite that enables enterprisewide administration of Dot Hill's SANnet storage systems across existing LANs and WANs. SANpath extends intelligent input/output path management to SANs. A third component, SANtrap, is prebuilt into Dot Hill's systems for out-of-band monitoring.

EMC Corp.

Hopkinton, Mass.

tel. 508-935-1000

EMC Data Manager is a centralized system for handling the backup and restore needs of large enterprise databases. It's used with EMC's high-end Symmetrix Enterprise Storage Systems.

Exabyte Corp.

Boulder, Colo.

tel. 303-442-4333

NetStorm is a Java suite of SAN management products for managing network resources and simplifying network administration across multiple Unix and NT platforms. The first available product in the suite, NetStorm Library Monitor provides for remote management of tape libraries from anywhere on the network.

Gadzoox Networks Inc.

San Jose, Calif.

tel. 408-360-4950

Ventana is SAN management software composed of SANtools for managing Gadzoox' Capellix 2000 and 3000 Fibre Channel switches and SAN Manager for managing the company's Gibraltar hubs.

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Palo Alto, Calif.

tel. 650-857-1501

SureStore E SAN Manager Device Management provides comprehensive and centralized management of SAN hubs and switches. Logical Unit Management manages thousands of storage logical units and hundreds of host devices.

Hitachi Data Systems

Santa Clara, Calif.

tel. 408-970-1000

Care is a suite of products that delivers enterprisewide coverage of online data copy and relocation, data access and protection, and storage management.

IBM Corp.

Armonk, N.Y.

tel. 914-499-1900

Tivoli Storage Manager is an enterprise storage manager that scales from PC servers running Unix to mainframes OS/390. It provides for tape resource sharing, LAN-free data transfer and server-free data movement.

Tivoli SANergy File Sharing enables the sharing of SAN storage arrays, file systems and files across multiple systems.

It supports NT and Windows 2000, Mac OS, SunSoft Solaris, SGI Irix, AIX and Tru64 Unix operating systems.

IBM StorWatch Enterprise Storage Server Expert gathers and presents information for managing the Enterprise Storage Server, providing performance, asset and capacity management.

IBM StorWatch Serial Storage Expert simplifies the SAN planning and management implemented on IBM Serial Storage Architecture loops.

IBM StorWatch Specialists are storage management tools built into most IBM storage server, RAID and gateway products.

Legato Systems Inc.

Mountain View, Calif.

tel. 650-812-6000

Celestra is advanced management software for high-end SCSI, Fibre Channel and SAN storage systems.

McData Corp.

Broomfield, Colo.

tel. 303-460-9200

Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager enables sysadmins to manage all switched enterprise components from a single console and provides a fabricwide view of an entire SAN.

nStor Technologies Inc.

San Diego

tel. 858-453-9191

AdminiStor is a Web software suite for configuring RAID controllers, monitoring and reporting SAN component status, and managing disk arrays.

QLogic Corp.

Aliso Viejo, Calif.

tel. 949-3389-6000

QLogic Management Suite contains advanced management utilities for heterogeneous SAN environments.

Veritas Software Corp.

Mountain View, Calif.

tel. 407-531-7501

Veritas SANPoint Control is management software that provides centralized monitoring and management of heterogeneous SAN components.

Vixel Corp.

Bothell, Wash.

tel. 425-806-5509

SAN InSite 2000 is a hardware-independent software management tool that provides end-user interoperability and manageability for all SAN devices.

Xiotech Corp.

Eden Prairie, Minn.

tel. 952-828-5980

REDI Storage Manager is logical SAN management software that supports multiple-server access, duplication of storage volumes, configuration and monitoring from a remote console, and I/O load balancing.


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