Austin, Tex.-based Tivoli Systems Inc. has added to its line of Storage Area Network (SAN) products with a new SAN manager and an enhanced version of its SANergy storage-sharing software.
The new Storage Network Manager is a centralized control that is designed to both monitor performance and improve the availability of the SAN, as well as provide continuous access to data for application processing. Tivoli says the manager is also capable of reducing administrative workload by automatically adding and extending needed disk resources across the SAN.
“The key to a SAN manager is…to have some sort of predictive ability, so you can see where the workloads are and when they occur,” said Bob Zimmerman, research director for storage at the Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif. “You can identify bottlenecks and try to be ahead of the curve in terms of providing alternate pathways or replicated data, as opposed to – after the fact – spending the weekend trying to figure out why for 20 minutes the whole network died on a performance glitch back in the storage sub-system.”
Although Zimmerman said Giga foresees a five- to ten-fold increase in storage revenues over the next few years, he said companies implementing full-fledged SANs have been relatively few so far. Ironically, though, he did not feel that that would dissuade companies from purchasing a SAN manager.
“It’s the chicken and the egg,” he explained. “If I can’t manage the SAN, I’m not going to install one. I’m not going to install one if I can’t manage one.”
Zimmerman said he did not see much difference in performance between Tivoli’s SAN manager and those of its competitors.
“All of the vendors have to support all the same switch vendors, and they have to support all the same storage technologies, so they cannot be radically different,” he explained.
He said the same situation affects Tivoli’s new SANergy 2.2 software. Like other vendors’ storage-sharing software, SANergy does not scale well for high-end processes, Zimmerman said.
“But very few people at this time have had full-fledged SAN implementations,” he reiterated. “Most applications tend to be single process servers. Essentially all they’ve done is replace dedicated disks with SAN disks. So they’ve shared the network but they haven’t shared the data.
“SANergy has done fine in the smaller environment,” he added.
Paul Dion, a lab coordinator in the department of communications at the University of Ottawa, has been using the previous version of SANergy – 2.1 – for the school’s small five-station multimedia storage network.
Dion said SANergy is used to centralize video and audio data, and make it available to users of the lab’s four video-editing suites.
“It does exactly what we want it to do,” Dion said. “And that means make the storage completely transparent to the user. All the user sees is four drives, which are the video storage drives, from any of the systems and (they can) access them at any time from any point. And we don’t get any file conflicts.”
Dion said the school’s previous system was individual local storage – one system, one storage unit.
“The problem we had with that was…if you start a project on one system, that means you have to complete it on that system. There was no way to transport the data other than to take the physical drives and move them to another system. And that does not work well, not with Windows NT.”
Dion said he does not plan to upgrade to version 2.2 of SANergy because the differences between the two versions do not affect him. New features on board SANergy include Linux support, enhanced Macintosh Support and expanded client support. Two Tivoli SANergy APIs (Application Program Interfaces) are also available to Tivoli’s partners, enabling them to create new MDC (meta data controller) platforms and supported file systems that can integrate with SANergy.
Pricing for both Tivoli’s Storage Network Manager and SANergy 2.2 are dependent on configuration and the number of seats purchased, respectively. Tivoli is on the Web at www.tivoli.com.