Transoft manages SANs

Transoft manages SANs

By Dave Simpson

Transoft Networks, in Santa Barbara, CA, may have hit a home run in the storage area network (SAN) management arena with its SAN Manager software, which is due from OEMs and resellers within two months. The software addresses some of the problems that users have managing SANs with heterogeneous servers and disk arrays.

SAN Manager is expected to compete in part with products such as EMC`s Volume Logix (see the Special Report in the March issue, p. 22). Although these management alternatives provide overlapping functionality, there are a number of significant differences. For one, Volume Logix is implemented in controller firmware on Symmetrix arrays, while SAN Manager is implemented in software that runs on SAN nodes, or servers.

Second, Volume Logix works only with EMC`s Symmetrix arrays. In contrast, SAN Manager works with virtually any vendor`s arrays, according to Transoft officials. SAN Manager is currently qualified with more than a dozen vendors` disk arrays and with two vendors` host bus adapters--Emulex and Qlogic. Operating system support is currently limited to Windows NT and Solaris. Transoft is in the process of qualifying other adapters, arrays and Unix versions.

Third, the Transoft approach could be

significantly less expensive than other approaches. For example, EMC`s Volume Logix is priced at $15,000 to $30,000 per array. In contrast, SAN Manager costs $7,495 for unlimited NT node licenses per SAN (25GB maximum) or $9,995 for the Solaris version, including one administration license. Additional costs depend on managed capacity: for example, $2,495 for 100GB or $9,995 for 1TB.

SAN Manager addresses the problem of managing disparate devices and providing secure access in storage network environments. "SANs promise the ability to manage capacity as a pooled resource, but it has to be easy for administrators to change things and it has to be safe, or not subject to administrative errors," says Mark Nicolett, a senior analyst with the Gartner Group consulting firm, in Stamford, CT.

"Once you connect things in a SAN, you may want to segregate things through software. SAN Manager redirects and blocks access, and keeps the information coordinated," explains Robert Gray, research manager, storage systems, at International Data Corp. (IDC), a market research firm in Framingham, MA.

SAN Manager works in Fibre Channel or SCSI SANs, and allows IS/IT managers to make dynamic storage and server node changes without network disruption or reboots. The software provides the following functions:

Online administration, which allows administrators to add or redistribute server nodes and storage LUNs (logical unit numbers) on a SAN via a drag-and-drop interface. The key benefit is reduced administration time and cost.

LUN-level storage management for "administrative clustering," allowing LUNs to be assigned dynamically and securely to designated server nodes. IDC defines administrative clustering as "management and allocation of resources from across the cluster, but where each application still runs on one node."

- Single-system-image view, providing a "virtual" storage subsystem.

- Support for heterogeneous servers and storage devices.

Security. Server nodes can only "see" storage that has been assigned exclusively to them. In other words, a server cannot access LUNs assigned to other servers, which can be particularly advantageous in NT environments.

Transoft also announced the fourth generation of its FibreNet architecture, called FibreNet DS, which provides a distributed file systems that allows Windows NT and Macintosh platforms to share files in a SAN environment. The new release adds features such as byte-level locking. For more information: www.transoftnetworks.com. q

This article was originally published on April 01, 1999