SVC for MDS supports non-IBM arrays

By Heidi Biggar

IBM, with partner Cisco Systems, has released a new version of its TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software for Cisco's MDS 9000 switches. The 1.1.8 release includes first-time support for non-IBM midrange disk arrays, as well as iSCSI connectivity.

The news is the third virtualization announcement to come out of IBM in the last five months. In June, the company announced the availability of the 2.1 release of its TotalStorage SAN File System (SFS), and in April, version 1.2 of its SVC appliance platform. Non-IBM disk support highlighted both announcements (see "IBM takes 'virtual' steps with SFS," InfoStor, July 2004, p. 1).

"This update brings the switch version of our SVC platform up to near parity with the SVC appliance version," says Jeff Barnett, manager of strategy for IBM storage software. "[More importantly], it turns the product from being an IBM-only play into something customers can use in their heterogeneous environments."

With this update, the SVC switch platform now supports Hewlett-Packard MA 8000 and EMA 12000/16000, Hitachi Data Systems' Lightning, and EMC CLARiiON disk arrays. Noticeably absent from this list are EMC Symmetrix, EMC DMX, and Hitachi Thunder, which are already supported by the SVC appliance version.

Barnett says users can expect more disk platforms to be added to the SVC support list (both appliance and switch versions) over the coming months.

As for support for iSCSI, Barnett says it gives users more flexibility in configuring their storage environments, allowing both Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over IP traffic to/from a primary Fibre Channel SAN.

"It allows users to share one storage infrastructure [i.e., a Fibre Channel SAN] for both local [Fibre Channel-connected] and remote [IP-connected] servers," explains Barnett. "Users can virtualize Fibre Channel storage on the back-end and connect both Fibre Channel and IP-connected servers to the front-end. This allows you to do Fibre Channel within the data center and IP outside the data center."

The SVC's iSCSI support is enabled through Cisco's MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module.

Mike Kahn, managing director of The Clipper Group consulting firm, says that while the SVC announcement is incremental, it may appeal to enterprises looking for a one-stop shop for an integrated solution, especially those striving to reduce complexity.

IBM's Barnett says he expects the announcement to generate a new level of interest in the IBM SVC switch platform. "We saw an uptick in user interest in the appliance due to broader disk support," says Barnett, "and we think that this announcement will make the switch option more valuable in customers' eyes."

For more information about network-hosted virtualization and fabric-based intelligence, see "Vendors inch toward fabric-based intelligence," InfoStor, May 2004, p. 1).

This article was originally published on September 01, 2004