SNW product highlights, Day 3

By Kevin Komiega

-- For the third consecutive time at the Storage Networking World (SNW) conference, a group of vendors gathered to extol the virtues of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). This time, however, they not only have a native end-to-end SAN implementation based on FCoE, but they also have the backing of VMware.

QLogic, Cisco, NetApp, and VMware held court at SNW to announce the first storage array with native FCoE support -- provided by NetApp. QLogic's converged network adapters (CNAs) will be embedded in FCoE-capable versions of NetApp's FAS and V-Series storage systems by year-end.

Representatives from each of the companies outlined how their products can now be used to create a fully functioning FCoE-based SAN, from the server through the switch to the storage array.

The VMware ESX 3.5-U2 operating system supports QLogic's CNAs, which connect to the Cisco Nexus 5020 converged networking switch and on to the CNAs embedded in NetApp's hardware.

The promise of FCoE is the consolidation of data and storage networking onto a single adapter to reduce cabling, power, and cooling requirements. For those end users waiting on the FCoE standard to be ratified, the vendors claim the draft standard has been sent out for comment and will be ratified in 2009. However, any changes to the FCoE draft standard will be minor software upgrades and will not require future hardware or firmware changes, according to those vendors.

IBM made news of its own today when the company announced an entry-level version of its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) storage virtualization platform for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

According to IBM SVC marketing manager Chris Saul, the new SVC Entry Edition is not SVC "lite" because it includes all of the same virtualization, migration, and consolidation capabilities of its enterprise product, but costs about 60% less.

Saul does say there is a trade-off. The SVC Entry Edition offers about 60% of the performance of its bigger brother because it is based on a lower-cost hardware platform.

Additionally, SVC Entry Edition is licensed by the number of disk drives virtualized rather than by terabyte, making the SVC more affordable for SMBs, according to Saul.

IBM also announced the interoperability of SVC with the new IBM XIV Storage System, the DS5000 and the System z/VSE.  New interoperability support for SVC also includes Microsoft Hyper-V, HDS Universal Storage Platform, and HP XP20000/XP24000.

SVC Entry Edition will be available in November.

Symantec announced at SNW that it has made its Veritas Storage Foundation management software "thin-friendly." Storage Foundation is now a thin-provisioning optimized file system and provides online storage migration that is "thin-aware."

Array-based thin provisioning provisions storage on demand to applications for better capacity utilization. However, Sean Derrington, director of Symantec's Storage and Availability Management Group, says realizing the full benefit of thin-provisioned storage is not automatic because most file systems don't use storage capacity efficiently and existing applications cannot be intelligently migrated from traditional storage arrays into thin-provisioned arrays. Without intelligent file system and storage integration, there is no way to return excess storage capacity to the storage pool over time, resulting in inefficient use of storage assets, according to Derrington.

Storage Foundation now also includes SmartMove, a new feature that facilitates the automatic reclamation of unused space during online migrations from traditional storage to thin-provisioned storage. It works with all storage arrays offering thin provisioning and supports Windows, Unix, and Linux platforms.

Symantec also announced the Veritas Thin Reclamation API -- a new API for automated space reclamation for thin-provisioning-capable storage arrays. The API uses VxFS technology to make storage reclamation transparent to the application, server, and storage so that unused storage is returned to the free storage pool in the array.

Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, and 3PAR are all working with Symantec to make their arrays work with the API.

Related articles: 
SNW product highlights, Day 1
SNW product highlights, Day 2

This article was originally published on October 15, 2008