Compaq makes good on ENSA promises

Compaq makes good on ENSA promises

Dave Simpson

On the heels of announcing its Enterprise Network Stor-age Architecture (INFOSTOR, January, p. 1), Compaq last month released the first products to fit into its broad storage area network (SAN) strategy. The new products include two StorageWorks Fibre Channel RAID arrays, a hub, switch, and software. In addition, Compaq for the first time announced IBM mainframe connectivity solutions through partnerships with Bus-Tech (Burlington, MA) and Computer Network Technology (Minneapolis, MN).

The midrange (up to 1TB) RAID Array 8000 and high-end (up to 2.6TB) Enterprise Storage Array 12000 can be connected to Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) SANs via Fibre Channel host connections. The arrays use Ultra SCSI drive interfaces, and are not yet available with Fibre Channel drives.

"There are only two Fibre Channel drive manufacturers, and the drives are incompatible today. Plus, for us, there`s a volume issue," says Jeffrey Schnabel, director of product marketing at Compaq.

The RAID arrays are compatible with most Unix implementations, as well as Windows NT, NetWare and OpenVMS. Prices for a single-controller RA8000 range from $0.13/MB to $0.17/MB; for a dual-controller ESA12000, from $0.15/MB to $0.27/MB. Per-MB pricing is roughly equivalent to pricing for Compaq`s Ultra SCSI-based RA7000 and ESA10000 arrays, and users can upgrade to the 8000 and 12000 via controller swaps. Compaq officials claim a 2X to 4X performance improvement at the controller level. The new arrays are also available in Ultra SCSI configurations and come with 512MB to 2GB of cache memory per cabinet.

In a departure from its normal practice of bundling storage management software with its arrays, Compaq announced that it will sell its Array Controller Software (ACS) Version 8.3 separately, and introduced a tiered pricing structure that starts with a base price of $4,000. ACS includes a SAN-related function, which works with Compaq`s StorageWorks controllers, that the company refers to as Selective Storage Presentation.

For FC-AL SAN configurations, Compaq also released a hub that it OEMs from Gadzoox Networks. Sometime in the next quarter, Compaq is expected to ship a Fibre Channel switch, based on a Brocade Communications device, for fabric SAN configurations. Company officials claim users will be able to upgrade from the hub to the switch without making other hardware or software upgrades.

Also in the next quarter, Compaq is expected to announce support for software-based disaster tolerance features such as peer-to-peer remote copy services as value-added options for its ACS software. Peer-to-peer remote copy allows storage systems to create full or partial mirror sets on remote storage systems. The software will initially operate over 10-kilometer Fibre Channel links, but Compaq is expected to support ATM and long-wave links later this year.

One beta site, SunGuard Recovery Services, is particularly looking forward to the value added software due in the next quarter.

"One of the exciting things abut Compaq`s Fibre Channel strategy is peer-to-peer copy, which is sort of like EMC`s SRDF," says Bob Cornelius, president of SunGuard, a disaster recovery and business continuity services provider in Wayne, PA. "Standard backup and restore doesn`t cut it for a lot of shops. They require another type of disaster recovery, such as SANs with remote peer-to-peer copy," Cornelius adds.

SunGuard is in the process of upgrading its SCSI-based RA7000 and ESA10000 StorageWorks subsystems to Fibre Channel, essentially turning the older arrays into RA8000 and ESA12000 models. SunGuard, which has more than 2.5TB on StorageWorks platforms, is also adding a hub to create an FC-AL SAN configuration, and will later upgrade to a switched fabric.

Taking aim at rivals such as EMC, IBM, and Sun--who have a strong presence in the data center arena--Compaq also announced for the first time products that allow its storage subsystems to connect to IBM mainframes. These products are the result of partnerships with Bus-Tech and Computer Network Technology (CNT). The two vendors` solutions differ significantly, but both offer high-speed transfers from MVS mainframes, data and file sharing from DB2 databases, and backup and restore from "open systems" to mainframes.

CNT`s FileSpeed data movement software can be coupled with its UltraNet storage gateway hardware for file transfer between mainframes and Unix servers. Bus-Tech`s DataBlaster is a gateway solution for ESCON-to-SCSI transfers. Schnabel claims both methods are faster, and require less disk space, than competing approaches such as EMC`s.

This article was originally published on February 01, 1999