So many SAN standards, so little time

So many SAN standards, so little time

As the saying goes, the good thing about standards is that there`s so many of them.

Dave Simpson


Over the last few months, there`s been a lot of talk about management standards for storage area networks. Two of the most intriguing initiatives came from Sun (InfoStor, Feb., p. 1) and EMC (see page 1 of this issue). Sun`s StoreX, although not SAN-specific, and EMC`s FibreAlliance spec promise to ease the burden of managing storage networks, a crucial requirement if SAN adoption is to pick up steam this year.

The lists of partners and supporters in these initiatives are impressive, but both are characterized by conspicuous absences. For example, can Sun really set a storage management standard without Compaq, EMC, HP, and IBM, not to mention Microsoft? And what are EMC`s odds without support from other RAID vendors? (EMC is currently the only array vendor in the FibreAlliance.) And key software vendors such as Legato and Veritas--as well as most of the Fibre Channel hub and switch vendors--seem to support every standards initiative and vision that comes along.

So, is it partnering or posturing? I don`t know, but it`s reason for concern because savvy IS/IT managers are not about to implement SANs until the vendor community works out issues such as management standards and interoperability. In a survey of 112 NT administrators, conducted by Windows NT Magazine, 7% of the respondents said they had already implemented a SAN; 14% were considering it; 31% said a SAN was under consideration; and 46% were not interested. To improve those numbers will require rapid solidification and implementation of management standards.

SANaganza in Vegas

Speaking of SANs, if you`re a storage acquisitions professional and you`re involved in the video/entertainment industry, you`ll probably be attending the NAB show next month in Las Vegas (April 19-24). If so, be sure to check out the "SANaganza" hosted by the Fibre Channel Community, formerly the Fibre Channel Loop Community.

A wide array of storage and multimedia companies have banded together to showcase a Fibre Channel SAN connecting video and audio creation/manipulation products. At press time, storage vendors expected to take part included AMP, Amphenol, Ancor, Andataco, Atto, Chaparral, Cielo Communications, Ciprico, Clariion, EMC, Emulex, Eurologic, Finisar, Gadzoox, IBM, Interphase, JNI, Genroco, Mercury Computer Systems, Molex, nStor, Raidtec, Rorke Data, Qlogic, Seagate, Vixel, and 3Com. See you there!

Brocade Communications Systems and Network Appliance formed a technology partnership to develop a high-performance storage solution for managing and sharing data over an integrated SAN/NAS architecture. As part of the agreement, NetApp will OEM Brocade`s SilkWorm Fibre Channel switches and software. In a separate release, NetApp also signed a strategic partnership agreement with WebSpective Software, a provider of Web resource management solutions, to develop replication and mirroring solutions for large-scale Web hosting and content providers. The solutions will be co-marketed and sold by both companies. Separately, CommVault Systems has entered into an alliance with Network Appliance under which CommVault will integrate its storage management software into NetApp`s network-attached storage (NAS) file servers. CommVault`s software provides data protection, recovery and management.

Under a strategic OEM licensing and sales agreement between Procom Technology and Veritas Software, Procom will offer Foundation Suite for Solaris, FirstWatch for Solaris and NT, and NetBackupfor Solaris and NT with its high-performance RAID enterprise systems and tape backup libraries for mission-critical storage applications.

Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) says it will support Legato Systems` Information Utility vision for storage area networks (SANs). Interoperability between ADIC SAN-ready tape libraries and Legato SAN software was demonstrated last month at a Legato SAN press conference in San Jose. Separately, ADIC announced support for the ProveIT disaster recovery readiness initiative spearheaded by Quantum.

Last month, Western Digital (WD) purchased San Jose, CA-based startup Crag Technologies for approximately $12 million in stock. Operating as a wholly owned subsidiary, Crag will continue to develop Windows NT system software and hardware solutions. WD officials expect the new unit to deliver product late this year.

MTI Technology inked its first Japanese distribution agreement, signing with Tokyo-based Soliton Systems in January. Soliton will distribute MTI`s enterprise storage products. The two companies also formed a technology alliance to implement SAN solutions for Soliton customers in Japan.

Expanding its relationship with Sequent Computer Systems, Legato Systems joined Sequent`s Partner Links Plus program. The two will team up to deliver best-in-class storage management solutions using Legato NetWorker on NUMA-Q systems running Sequent DYNIX/ptx. Legato also announced its intention to purchase Dublin, CA-based Intelliguard Software later this month. Under the terms of the agreement, Legato will issue 720,000 shares of stock and the cash equivalent of 180,000 shares of Legato stock at a predetermined time.

Ancor Communications signed an OEM agreement with Inrange Technologies, whereby Inrange will integrate Ancor GigWorks MKII switches (8- and 16-port configurations) into its Fibre Channel/9000 SAN switches. Ancor also signed an OEM agreement with Jaycor Networks to test, integrate, and sell the GigWorks MKII family as part of its SAN solution for the high-end enterprise market.

In its latest round of financing, TeraStor, the developer of near-field recording (NFR) technology, raised $20 million. The company will use the funding to bring NFR products to market later this year.

Relative startup Ecrix earlier this month announced that Aiwa will manufacture its VXA-1 tape drives. First shipments are expected this month. Ecrix has teamed up with Bell Microproducts, m+s Elektronik, and CMS Peripherals Limited to distribute the drives and media throughout North America and Europe.

This article was originally published on March 01, 1999