Clariion steps up direct sales efforts Introduces LAN-free SAN backup
In back-to-back announcements last month, Clariion unveiled a storage initiative that includes aggressive plans to build its direct sales business, as well as the immediate availability of SANbackup, its foray into the increasingly contested SAN market.
Though Clariion is giving equal billing to both announcements, greater interest is being generated by its direct sales initiative. "It`s a critical move," says David Hill, senior analyst with the Aberdeen Group consulting firm, in Boston. "There`s no other way for them to break out of the box. They either have to make a dramatic move or sell out to someone else or accept the constraints on the business they have."
Until now, Clariion has focused primarily on OEM and distributor channels. Its captive base pales compared to larger server vendors-despite its relationship to Data General. The reality, says Hill, is that Clariion is an independent supplier. "And if they`re going to succeed, they have to develop business at the high end, at the enterprise level, and for that they need a direct sales force."
To that end, Clariion will reportedly pump more than $100 million into its sales and marketing infrastructure, including some 450 new hires over the next 18 months. "By the end of the calendar year, other than EMC, I think we will be the largest independent direct sales operation in the storage industry," predicts Joel Schwartz, Clariion vice president and general manager. Clariion will position itself against suppliers of proprietary boxes, smaller "boutique" dealers, and server vendors.
While the pieces are put into place, Clariion expects a period of revenue shortfalls. This lag can be expected to last about nine months, says Hill.
Like many previously announced SAN solutions, SANbackup provides LAN-free backup and recovery in a multi-host Unix/NT environment. Unlike most SAN solutions, however, SANbackup takes advantage of Internet Protocol (IP) over Fibre Channel for file-level backup and recovery.
By using host bus adapters (Emulex`s LP8000) instead of bridges for connectivity, Clariion says it has created a scalable, high-performance solution that is easy to implement. "To deploy SANbackup," says Frank Kenney, director of software product management at Clariion, "servers only have to have a PCI slot that the host bus adapter can plug into."
By running Legato Networker Power Edition v5.5, says Kenney, "we get some very good multiplexing capabilities. We can take multiple input streams from various hosts and multiplex them out to the tape libraries [presently only StorageTek libraries]."
An entry-level solution starts at about $150,000, which includes support for 50 clients, a 50GB-per-hour data rate, and up to 2TB storage. "An entry-level system supports one to three LP8000s, or three loops," says Kenney. "Theoretically, this system can have up to 300MBps, whereas a bridge, which only has one connection, is limited to 100MBps." Kenney says that a midsize configuration scales to 100 clients and 7TB of capacity.
Standard components include a dedicated NT backup server, support for StorageTek tape libraries, Legato Networker Power Edition v5.5 backup software, and Clariion disk storage. Clariion says support for other backup applications will come in the next two quarters.
Also, toward the end of the year, Clariion will add multi-host shared storage functionality to its SAN line-up. "The challenge is providing a level of quality of service across servers and protecting storage from unauthorized access," says Kenney, referring to the complex issue of LUN masking, or mapping. Clariion says it is tackling the issue at the array, rather than host, level through code that runs on the storage processor.