Users looking to improve interoperability and performance of SANs may find help in testing tools unveiled last week by two established vendors.
Agilent Technologies Inc.s 1730 SAN Tester checks for variables such as line speed, error rates and port performance. The 1730 builds on the Palo Alto, Calif., companys experience in Fibre Channel chips and networking measurement tools, said Jean-Manuel Dassonville, product manager.
"The deployment of [storage area network] architectures has been growing very fast since the year 2000, [but] as of today, the test strategy for SAN systems is mainly based on proprietary solutions," Dassonville said, referring to users self-testing methods. Unlike specialty companies, Agilent has enterprises trust, he said.
The 1730 uses Windows 2000. It ships in 1G-bps and 2G-bps configurations, with up to 16 ports per 2U (3.5-inch) chassis. Its prices start at $24,000 for four ports.
By contrast, Apcon Inc.s IntellaPatch 64 is for customers testing for raw, physical-layer Fibre Channel functionality. The 40-employee, decade-old private companys switch is used by major vendors such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp., said Richard Rauch, founder, president and CEO.
"Its an electrical-to-optical, back-to-electrical conversion. We dont do any packet detection, packet protocols, fabric switching," Rauch said.
Prices for the 3U (5.25-inch) IntellaPatch 64 start at $16,000, plus $100 per Fibre Channel transceiver, Rauch said. A new card, due by years end, will merge OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48 links into one and cost about $4,000. Apcon also announced IntellaZone multiuser software last week, at $995 for four switches. The Portland, Ore., companys future efforts will include helping major switching companies build 10G-bps designs, Rauch said.
The next-generation 10G-bps switches will likely be ready in the third quarter of next year, Rauch said. "Making one in the lab is one thing; making 5,000 or 10,000 for the customers is an entirely different problem," he said, citing circuit board manufacturing issues.
Apcons testing switch found a home at storage startup Rhapsody Networks Inc., in Fremont, Calif. "I knew that wed have a challenge in dynamically configuring our test networks. You want to re-configure your test network without having to move your cables," said Sander Pool, a test systems engineer. Rhapsody uses four of Apcons 32-port products and a 64-port unit, and "its already looking like we can use 128 ports," Pool said. Apcon was quick to fix early interoperability problems, he said. "Honestly, wed be dead without it."