CentrePath unfolds data path management software

By Ann Silverthorn

—CentrePath this week made its data path management technology available as a standalone software package. The Magellan DataPath Manager was formerly offered only as part of the company's remote management services.

Magellan DataPath Manager v3 provides topology management, real-time event correlation, and predictive performance monitoring across multi-vendor, multi-domain, multi-protocol networks. The software enables users to pinpoint the root-cause of events across the entire data path, from HBAs through SAN switches, Fibre Channel extension gear, and DWDM and SONET devices. It supports products from vendors such as Adva, Brocade, Cisco, McData, Nortel, and others.

"The foundation layer of the software is topology management—understanding how the devices connect to each other logically, how the protocols use the environment, and how this traverses across domains," says Chuck Hudson, vice president of engineering at CentrePath. "The software analyzes not only the optical network, but crosses into the channel extension space and the SAN space."

Analyzing the topology of optical/storage networks can reveal if systems are truly redundant and whether operations will be able to switch from, say, one SONET ring to another in case of a failure in the network.

Addressing the real-time event correlation feature of the software, Mark Smith, CentrePath's president, says, "The software can automatically isolate where the original problem occurred in a network and then tell the operators exactly what they need to do to fix the problem. We've been able to eliminate the common scene—five or six people in a room all from different disciplines (storage, networking, servers, and applications)—trying to figure out what the problem is before they actually can repair it."

Regarding the predictive performance monitoring of Magellan, Hudson adds that another value of the product is being able to identify who in the network is affected by a problem. "All operators would prefer to be proactive and call their business customers first rather than receiving a phone call about a network issue," he explains.

Hudson says that the proactive nature of the software also allows operators to control network brownouts—degradation of performance that impacts the overall performance of the applications using the networks. "We can put thresholds against the performance statistics and provide alarms to operators when certain statistics break thresholds. This alerts operators to the potential of a brownout issue occurring in a specific area in the network. They can troubleshoot the problem and correct before it affects overall service for their business customers."

CentrePath decided to offer Magellan as a separate software package following demand from its customers and storage partners. As to why customers would want to purchase the technology separately rather than as a service, Smith says that customers have differing philosophies on how their operations should be run and place different values on control, many choosing not to outsource any part of their operations. CentrePath's storage partners wanted to be able to resell the software along with the storage solutions they provide. These partners include Brocade, Cisco, and McData.

Version 3 of the software adds Linux support, additional device support, and performance management capabilities. Specifically, Magellan DataPath Manager v3 adds support for Nortel's Optical Metro 3500 and Cisco's MDS 9000 and ONS 15454 series.

The base price for Magellan DataPath Manager v3 is $60,000. Then, depending on the types of devices customers want to manage and monitor, the cost increases accordingly. For a medium to large installation, the price tag is around $150,000.

This article was originally published on October 13, 2005