Veritas lays out "virtual" SAN initiative

Posted on December 01, 1999

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Veritas lays out "virtual" SAN initiative

Zachary Shess

Last month, Veritas Software announced and demonstrated SAN virtualization technologies at its Vericon annual user conference, setting forth its technology platform for upcoming storage area network (SAN) management products over the next year.

The V3 initiative employs SAN virtualization to mask the complexities of SAN resource management. Virtualization helps scale SAN installations and assures availability by providing server applications and storage management software with a logical view of storage resources on a SAN. The three technology layers—V3 SAN Access Layer, V3 Storage Appliance and V3 SAN Management Tools—will be licensed to OEMs and integrated into Veritas products, such as Volume Manager and Cluster Server.

"Our customers have been asking for solutions to make sure they will get more value out of SAN installations without tapping them out in terms of functionality," says Robin Purohit, director of SAN product management at Veritas.

Veritas officials and industry analysts agree that while SANs provide greater capabilities for enterprise storage configurations, they also bring complexities that limit their effectiveness. Even behind an industry backdrop of physical storage consolidation, SAN software vendors have struggled to create the common data pools like those in the mainframe space, says Mark Nicolett, an analyst with the Gartner Group consulting firm, in Stamford, CT.

"Even though you can physically consolidate storage, it`s still logically fragmented behind platforms," says Nicolett. "If you look at it from the application host level, they still have their own pools."

Storage virtualization is part of an overall redefinition of the relationship between the location of data and the device it`s stored in, says Dan Kusnetsky, an analyst with International Data Corp., a market research firm headquartered in Framingham, MA. "We`re moving from storage physically attached directly to the server, where data was more segmented but you knew where everything was, to a more virtual network."

Residing on the host, between SAN devices and storage management applications, the V3 SAN Access Layer correlates information from communications between hardware employing standard protocols and other APIs, and presents it under one uniform API to a storage management application. For example, the SAN Access Layer can collect device zoning and naming information from host bus adapters and switches and present a single zoning API, facilitating zone management of complex SANs from a single console.

For OEMs and integrators looking to embed virtualization services in SAN hardware, the V3 Storage Appliance software suite provides virtualization services that, when layered on top of Veritas Volume Manager, present logical disks to a host server attached to the storage appliance using a Fibre Channel SAN. With these capabilities, storage administrators can have more flexibility allocating physical devices to virtual disks.

Last month, storage integrator GAIN Systems announced plans to OEM the V3 Storage Appliance for use in its IntelliDisk storage server. The software will be embedded in IntelliDisk to help users manage large storage pools in a SAN from one console.

V3 SAN Management Tools, available next year, will monitor storage resource availability and performance by employing agents controlled through a Java console. Management agents track data from suites such as Veritas Volume Manager, File System, and NetBackup.

During Vericon, Veritas and Brocade Communications made a joint technology announcement, hoping to accelerate the time to market for their SAN management services. The companies demonstrated a SAN management application that provides a single administrative console for zone administration. The application will be based on the V3 SAN technology, which will be integrated with Brocade`s Fabric OS. Veritas also plans to develop Brocade-specific additions to the V3 SAN Access Layer to support Brocade`s SilkWorm fabric switches.


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