EMC storage router to make debut

EMC Corp. next week is expected to unveil its much-anticipated storage router, a hardware and software package designed to optimize use of storage resources and ease the movement of data across heterogeneous environments.

The company’s Invista offering, which EMC officials have been talking up for at least a year, is set to debut at EMC’s Technical Summit in New Orleans. EMC declined to say any more about it or any other new offerings until this week’s event.

Invista, which translates into “in sight” in Italian, is an out-of-band appliance built on a dual-node server cluster that connects to a Fibre Channel switch within a storage-area network (SAN). The appliance runs software that inspects every packet of data passing from host computers through a Fibre Channel switch to a storage array. It classifies the data and assigns it a unique identifier so that it can be organized, tracked and managed across a pool of storage resources.

The storage router works with Cisco’s MDS 9000 family of director-level switches and Brocade Communications’ Silkworm Fabric Application AP7420. It also will work with McData’s switches, pending certification from EMC. Invista conforms to the Fabric Application Interface Standard, which features a common API for implementing storage applications within a SAN environment.

Invista can be managed via a Java-based GUI, command-line interface or EMC’s ControlCenter software.

Michael Passe, senior storage engineer for CareGroup/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says his team plans to use Invista in conjunction with Cisco MDS 9000 switches to virtualize data. The healthcare outfit has 50T bytes of data stored on EMC Symmetrix and Clariion arrays.

EMC’s Invista will compete with IBM’s in-band, fabric-based SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi’s array-based TagmaStore array. Because Invista delegates I/O processing to the Fibre Channel switch, I/O is not slowed, EMC says. The company says it expects the system to support 30,000 to 40,000 I/Os per second.

“The fact that the EMC storage router doesn’t sit in the datastream is key to scalability,” Passe says.

Analysts say the choice of the EMC Invista or another virtualization approach depends on the applications a user wants to run.

“If you are looking for doing volume aggregation, IBM’s SAN Volume Controller or DataCore’s and Falconstor’s products make sense,” says Greg Schulz, an analyst with Evaluator Group. “If you are looking to address things such as data movement and migration and use an underlying array, then the EMC storage router is the right choice.”

Invista is expected to be priced starting at about US$140,000.

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