If 1998 was the Year of Fibre Channel, December was the Month of SAN Strategy Announcements. One by one, major storage vendors announced SAN plans that were, with some exceptions, long on vision and short on execution. And the rapid succession of announcements continued into this year, with Legato earlier this month becoming the latest vendor to roll out a SAN strategy.

But end users and, perhaps more importantly, storage integrators, should realize that just building the hardware infrastructure for storage networks–laying cable and cobbling Fibre Channel disk arrays, adapters, hubs, switches, and tape libraries–is only the first step toward realizing the full benefits of SANs. Right now, vendors are jockeying for position out of the gates, but the real race will be run on software turf.

It should be interesting. On one hand, major independent software vendors such as Legato and Veritas are busy partnering with just about every other vendor in the storage market. Meanwhile, systems vendors such as Compaq and Sun have their own SAN software development projects underway (see this month`s lead news story for more information on Sun`s gambit). EMC continues to put more and more emphasis on software and what they call enterprise storage networks. And smaller software vendors such as Mercury and Transoft are already selling what could loosely be called “SAN operating systems.”

Regardless of which vendors come out ahead in the SAN race, IS/IT managers and third-party integrators should be focusing on the software side of the equation as they lay the hardware infrastructure groundwork. How do you manage these new architectures? Who “owns” the data? And what is data sharing, anyway?

At the application level, one thing`s for sure: In the early phases of Fibre Channel and SAN adoption, the applications that will benefit most will be backup/restore and clustering.

JNI (formerly Jaycor Networks Inc.) last month completed its acquisition of Adaptec`s Fibre Channel assets. The deal encompassed intellectual property, patents, and product lines, as well as staff in San Jose and Irvine, CA. As part of the deal, Adaptec and JNI entered into a joint manufacturing and sales agreement to support current customers.

EMC and Hewlett-Packard announced a three-year extension of its strategic reseller partnership. HP will continue to resell EMC`s Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems and software with its own HP 9000 Enterprise Servers, HP 3000 servers, and HP NetServer systems. EMC officials estimate its partnership with HP has generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue for EMC.

Box Hill Systems, Legato Systems, and StorageTek formed an alliance last month in an effort to provide turn-key storage area network (SAN) solutions to its customers. Box Hill will integrate its Fibre Channel RAID system with Legato NetWorker and Legato SmartMedia backup software and StorageTek`s selection of tape libraries, Fibre Channel disk, and networking components.

Separately, StorageTek has signed an OEM agreement with UniTree Software. The terms call for StorageTek`s Central Archive Manager software to be bundled and integrated with UniTree`s Central File Manager, a hierarchical storage management tool. The bundled suite is designed to provide enhanced flexibility, space, and speed for backup/restore and storage management requirements.

The Travan NS20 tape storage drive from Tecmar Technologies has been selected by Silicon Graphics (SGI) as a factory option for the SGI 320 and 540 visual workstations introduced last month.

Iomega is expected to complete within the next month its acquisition of the assets of bankrupt rival SyQuest for approximately $9.5 million. The move would encompass SyQuest`s intellectual property, inventory and fixed assets, but Iomega is not expected to assume SyQuest`s material obligations or liabilities. The two companies announced they will drop their patent infringement lawsuit, which would have gone to trial in April.

Tech Data and Computer Associates announced a domestic software distribution agreement that enables Tech Data to offer CA`s Enterprise Edition products to resellers in strategic vertical markets. Newly available Enterprise Edition products through Tech Data include AimIT (asset and inventory management), DirectIT (directory management), ShipIT (automated software distribution), ControlIT (remote control), ARCserveIT (storage management), GuardIT (network security), InoculateIT (antivirus), ProtectIT (systems security), NetworkIT Pro (network management), Paradigm (help desk), and MasterIT (web management).

Plasmon Plc., the British parent of Minneapolis-based Plasmon IDE, has purchased Philips LMS, a maker of tape and optical drives and optical media, for an undisclosed sum. The new division, to be known as Plasmon LMS, is expected to help the combined companies generate more than $100 million in 1999 revenues.

ATL Products announced last month that SKYDATA Corp. will distribute its PowerStor tape libraries throughout Canada. The PowerStor libraries will also be integrated into SKYDATA`s own DLTtape product line. Additional warranty programs will be included as well. ATL also inked a deal with Wyle Systems to distribute the PowerStor series throughout the U.S.

Computer Network Technology (CNT) and Brocade Communications Systems are planning on partnering to eventually provide disaster-tolerant SAN solutions for distributed environments. Under a multi-year OEM agreement, CNT will offer the Brocade`s Silkworm Fibre Channel fabric switches as part of its UltraNet family of SAN solutions. In addition, both companies will undertake joint marketing and product development activities to drive the adoption of disaster-tolerant SANs over wide area networks.

Legato Systems expanded its OEM agreement with Germany-based Siemens AG to include its Legato SmartMedia software. Siemens licensed SmartMedia source code for both Windows NT and UNIX platforms in hopes of helping customers with broader requirements with media and device management, especially in the SAN environments. Legato also recently announced plans to OEM SmartMedia to CommVault Systems. CommVault plans to integrate the suite into its line of storage management and SAN software.

DellWare, a division of Dell Computer, is planning to resell several product lines from Procom Technology. Plans call for reselling Procom`s network-attached products lines, including DataFORCE, CD FORCE, and its ATOM series of hard drive upgrades for notebook computers.

To facilitate the growth of its FabricPaks, McData Corp. has partnered with Emulex Corp., Jaycor Networks, and Crossroads Systems. The terms of the agreement call for the three vendors to supply customized host-bus adapters and Fibre-Channel-to-SCSI bridges for FabricPaks, a Fibre Channel switched fabric solution.

Last month, Nortel Networks announced plans to incorporate Tandberg Data`s 8GB SLR5 tape drive into its CallPilot unified messaging system. Nortel`s CallPilot system will enable users to access and manage voice, FAX, and e-mail messages throughout an enterprise. q

Storage Computer Corp. recently formed a strategic alliance with Intelliguard Software. Under the agreement, Storage Computer will integrate Intelliguard`s Celestra series, a high-speed solution for performing server-less backups with its platform-independent OmniRAID and OmniFORCE storage software. By combining Celestra technology with OmniRAID, administrators are able to perform real-time backup, without requiring host intervention, at speeds up to 1TB per hour.

Veritas Software and Oracle have entered into a cooperative development agreement to create an API that will tightly integrate Veritas Database Edition for Oracle with the Oracle database. The vendors will also modify both the VERITAS Database Edition for Oracle and a future release of the Oracle database to conform to the API. The agreement is ultimately designed to help customers better manage the explosive growth of their business data, deliver increased data availability and ease of management, as well as lower the total cost of ownership through more efficient use of storage resources.

Xyratex and Mylex Corp. have reached an OEM agreement that calls for Mylex`s DACFL and DACFF RAID controllers to be incorporated into Xyratex`s new Salient line of external Fibre Channel server storage systems.

Last month, M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers announced that Netier Technologies will be using DiskOnChip in their NetXpress SL1000 and NetXpress SL2000 series of thin-client solutions. The pact enables Netier to design and implement embedded operating systems, emulation suites, browsers, media players and other applications, all of which can be stored on the DiskOnChip rather than a hard disk drive.

As part of its “Keep the Drive Alive” OEM partner program, Andataco recently disclosed it plans to develop enhanced versions of its GigaRAID storage devices containing Web Storage Management Software (WSM 3.0) for an undisclosed “top five” computer manufacturer. Company officials anticipate revenues resulting from the agreement are expected to be in the $20-million range over the next several years. One of the enhanced products is expected to be the GigaRAID/8000 device.