By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2003-10-13 Print this article Print

EMC VisualSAN 3.0 is not a revolutionary offering. However, the fact that it is fairly easy to use and powerful—considering its focus on smaller SANs (storage area networks)—makes it an attractive solution that could be helpful for IT managers with small SAN implementations, even if they dont have EMC hardware in their data centers.

The basic zoning, network visualization and configuration management that EMC Visual-SAN brings to the table will help IT managers with smaller budgets make their SANs easier to manage. VisualSANs relatively low $6,000 entry price also makes it an attractive solution, although it doesnt have the automation-type functionality found in more powerful (and expensive) products such as InterSAN Inc.s Pathline solution.

EMC VisualSAN 3.0
EMC VisualSAN 3.0 is a useful SAN management package that addresses the low-to-middle range of the SAN market. Although not as powerful as enterprise-class solutions, EMC VisualSAN 3.0 has interesting Configuration Manager and Performance Manager components and is reasonably priced at $6,000.
  • PRO: Simplifies SAN management; keeps track of configuration information; nice performance management capabilities.

  • CON: Low on automation in SAN management functions and lacks ability to push configuration to storage hardware.
    InterSANs Pathline McData Corp.s SANavigator
    One of the more impressive features we tested in EMC VisualSAN is its new Configuration Manager tool, which allowed us to take snapshots of our storage configurations (drivers, firmware revisions and so on). Given that the Fibre Channel interoperability of devices like host bus adapters and RAID units is sensitive to configuration changes, this tool is very useful. IT managers can compare the last snapshot of a working configuration with a malfunctioning one to discover what went wrong.

    Configuration Manager can also show devices that have left the SAN, thus helping IT staff find devices that might have crashed or have connectivity problems.

    Using Configuration Manager, its also possible to quickly replicate successful configuration settings and make sure that new implementations are set up correctly. In the future, we hope the Configuration Manager tool gains the ability to track the authors of configuration changes (a must for larger environments), but as it stands, this feature is plenty effective.

    EMC VisualSANs zoning capabilities were fairly easy to use in tests. Although we cant say that their implementation is very different from the zoning tools we found on most major Fibre Channel switches, the tool was easy to navigate and use.

    EMC VisualSANs Performance Manager tool is useful for tracking the performance of SAN links. We could easily see congestion points in a test SAN and figure out which spots could eventually become problem areas when traffic grew.

    Performance Manager is user-configurable, and we could easily set warning thresholds for when the tool should highlight problem links.

    Next page: EMC VisualSRM 1.5.9


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