Vendors deliver new gear for networked storage

Storage stalwarts and startups alike gathered last week in Palm Desert, Calif., to show their latest advances with networked storage gear, during the Storage Networking World conference.

Although using direct attachments between server and storage systems is still the dominant method for storing data, analysts predict that networked storage will take over as the leading technology in data management over the next three years. Companies are working to link storage systems via switched networks and make data available on more server and client systems.

The conference highlighted a growing trend among vendors of delivering software that can manage hardware from various companies, making it possible to control a large pool of data instead of working with small subsets of storage systems. In addition, companies demonstrated products that use emerging protocols such as iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) and let users send large chunks of data over IP (Internet Protocol) networks.

Here’s a look at some of the announcements made during the show.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp., a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. based in Tokyo, has teamed with switch maker Nishan Systems Inc. to add long-distance IP-based backup products to its storage lineup. Hitachi will resell Nishan’s IPS switches along with Hitachi’s own TrueCopy replication software to help users open up data sitting on Fibre Channel networks to other servers and storage systems. This should allow companies to back up information over much greater distances than what Fibre Channel permits, a company spokesman said. In addition, the switch can link disparate Fibre Channel SANs (storage area networks). The average price for a TrueCopy license on Hitachi’s Lighting 9900 series storage systems is US$14,050, and each switch costs $30,000, according to the spokesman.

Tek-Tools Inc., based in Dallas, released the second version of its Storage Profiler software for Web-based storage management. This product helps users with basic management tasks such as tracking storage resources, reporting on usage and planning for purchasing more storage gear. With this latest release, Tek-Tools has added support for EMC Corp.’s Symmetrix storage systems and the Linux operating system. It has also made it possible to compile reports on an entire company’s storage resources instead of limiting the reports to one vendor’s products or one department, a spokeswoman said. The software works with the Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris, Microsoft Corp. Windows NT and 2000, Linux and Novell Inc. NetWare operating systems and starts at $7,500 for a 10-user license.

To help link hardware together, Pirus Networks Inc., based in Acton, Massachusetts, announced its PSX-1000 switch for both SAN and NAS (network-attached storage) architectures. The product allows administrators to connect server and storage systems that use various protocols for exchanging data, including iSCSI, Fibre Channel, NFS (Network File System) and CIFS (Common Internet File System). The PSX-1000 helps administrators manage multivendor hardware by creating one view of all the storage in a network and making all the storage appear as one large disk. The product starts at US$85,000, the company said in a statement.

Neartek Inc. announced its Virtual Storage Engine 2 (VSE2) software for managing data backup tasks on tape storage systems. Due out this quarter, the software lets administrators control tape backup functions for a wide variety of servers, ranging from mainframes to midrange systems, the company said in a statement. The product can work with servers running IBM Corp.’s AS400, Unix, Windows NT and NetWare operating systems and can automate data backup across all these systems. On the low end, VSE2 starts at $14,000, but it can cost up to $1.7 million for a large company looking to use the software on high-end tape systems, according to a company spokeswoman. Neartek is headquartered in Lakeville, Mass.

Also looking to bridge the gap between SAN and NAS architectures, Auspex Systems Inc. said it will start shipping its NSc3000 controller this month. This product also links storage gear from different vendors and creates a bridge between systems on an IP network and those in a SAN. The NSc3000 supports the CIFS, NFS and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) protocols and takes up 5U (8.75 inches) of rack space, the company said in a statement. Auspex, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said the product will cost between $30,000 and $45,000, depending on the configuration.