SANgate ships data migration alternative

By Heidi Biggar

Hoping to change the way large companies migrate data, Southboro, MA, start-up SANgate Systems earlier this week announced its first product, SANblaster S1000, which the company claims is the first dedicated, non-host-based data migration tool.

"Data migration [with traditional products] is a very complicated, people-intensive, and downtime-causing process, but it's something the big shops do all the time," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group, a consulting firm in Milford, MA.

What makes SANblaster more efficient at migrating data than existing approaches? "We like the speed at which it can migrate data and the fact that, unlike traditional host-based replication products, there is no impact to the host other than the downtime [for the transfer]," says Mike Hogan, general manager of Imation's Storage Professional Services group.

In the absence of alternatives, end users have traditionally used host-based replication products (e.g., Fujitsu Softek's TDMF, NSI Software's Double-Take, and Veritas' Volume Replicator) or other mirroring techniques to migrate data from one system to another.

"There really haven't been other alternatives [to host-based replication] for migrating data [between heterogeneous storage systems] except mirroring through the operating system," explains Hogan. While mirroring through the operating system works in some cases, it is only a good option if both the source and target storage devices are at the same site and are directly connected to the same host, Hogan says.

Hogan gives the example of an end user trying to migrate data from an EMC Symmetrix array to an HP XP512 array. "They just plugged both of the arrays into the same SAN, mapped the source and target LUNs on each device, and then mirrored the OS." That works fine if you're not trying to migrate data remotely, he explains. "If you are, mirroring through the OS...will create such a performance problem that it will be unusable."

In this situation, end users previously had two options (one if data migration was between unlike systems): host-based replication or an EMC SRDF-type approach. SANblaster S1000 presents a third option that is specifically for data migration.

SANblaster can be used to migrate data between multiple homogeneous or heterogeneous storage devices. The only limitation is that the storage be external to the server, which means that end users migrating internal server storage would still need to use a host-based replication product like Double-Take, Replicator, or TDMF, explains Hogan.

SANgate claims SANblaster can save end users money by eliminating the need for multiple host licenses, minimizing application downtime, keeping migration traffic off the enterprise network, simplifying the data migration planning and management process, and boosting migration speeds.

"It creates a fast path between multiple sources and targets," says Patrick Courtin, SANgate president and CEO. The company claims to be able to push more than 1TB per hour through the device in lab testing. The device currently supports Windows NT/2000 and Solaris (broader Unix support is planned), four or eight data paths, and both Fibre Channel and SCSI connectivity.

"SANgate's 1TB [per hour] data-rate claim is doable, but it would depend on the configuration," says Hogan. In recent testing at Imation's storage consulting services facility in Oakdale, MN, SANblaster significantly outperformed Double-Take and Volume Replicator. Hogan did not test Fujitsu Softek's TDMF.

The appliance was tested in a Windows NT/2000 environment with multiple source/target storage devices (e.g., Clariion, Dell, EMC, and Hewlett-Packard systems) going through a Fibre Channel-to-SCSI bridge. Because SANblaster moves data at the block, rather than byte, level, Hogan says he made sure to test the appliance's ability to move data of varying LUN sizes against host-based products.

"It was important for us to do that because if it's a 2GB LUN and it only has 100MB of data on it, SANblaster [because it's block-based] is still going to move the whole 2GB." Hogan says that even in cases where the amount of stored data was only a small percentage of the overall LUN size, SANblaster significantly outperformed the replication products tested.

Pricing for SANblaster S100 starts at $60,000.

This article was originally published on July 31, 2002