By Ann Silverthorn
—NetEx makes no secret of it: The data transport company, spun off from StorageTek in 1999, wants to make Fibre Channel over IP WAN technologies obsolete. Its line of attack is the release of HyperIP DRO (Data Replication Optimizer) this week, an appliance that accelerates replication over standard TCP/IP-Ethernet networks, including iSCSI-based replication products.
"There are a lot of vendors in the WAN optimization space and a lot in the wide area file services [WAFS] space. We see that as the low-end market," says Bob MacIntyre, vice president of business development and marketing at NetEx. "We're coming into this from a performance standpoint." The company claims a minimum replication performance boost of 300% and a maximum performance improvement of 10X, as well as a reduction in bandwidth requirements of 60% to 90% and 2X to 15X data compression ratios.
Potential competitors include vendors of WAN optimization products such as Peribit and Riverbed, as well as vendors of WAFS appliances and software, such as Cisco/Actona, FineGround (which is being acquired by Cisco), and Tacit Networks.
In a survey of 170 InfoStor readers—all IT storage professionals— 71% of the respondents said that Ethernet/TCP is their preferred business continuity/disaster-recovery (BC/DR) transport versus Fibre Channel over IP. McIntyre says with Ethernet there's less hardware to purchase and maintain, there's only one network to manage, communications are simpler, and performance is better compared to approaches that tunnel Fibre Channel.
"Fibre Channel is no longer a requirement," says MacIntyre. "A lot of the storage vendors are using native Ethernet connections in their arrays, such as EMC with Symmetrix and DMX. Customers don't have to have Fibre Channel coming out over their wide area connections anymore. There are better ways to drive replication traffic over the network."
HyperIP DRO installs as an appliance that attaches to any Ethernet switch and requires no changes to applications or code upgrades to network devices. It appears as an IP gateway to servers and storage controllers. Some of its management features include
- Time-of-day rate limiting to optimize bandwidth;
- Performance graphs for detailed hourly, daily, and monthly traffic analysis;
- A transport tuning facility that optimizes storage traffic for networks with high packet loss; and
- Utilities, diagnostic aids, network status display and traffic flow, configuration, and operational status.
HyperIP DRO has an MSRP of approximately $20,000. The appliance and software have been qualified with replication products from vendors such as DataCore, EMC, IBM/Tivoli, Microsoft, Maranti, Network Appliance, NSI, Oracle, Softek, and Veritas, as well as with standard FTP, according to MacIntyre. NetEx partners include EMC, IBM/Tivoli, Network Appliance, NSI, Softek, and Veritas.