Storage hardware analysis products will debut from most of the niches significant vendors this spring and summer, exploiting the precision needs of trends in high availability, vendor interoperability and scalability.
Black-box products from Finisar Systems, Ancot Corp. and I-Tech Corp. are used in developing, manufacturing and troubleshooting Fibre Channel and SCSI storage hardware. Experts say theyll become increasingly vital as vendors like EMC Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Network Appliance Inc., Veritas Software Corp. and scores of smaller companies engage in tense "co-opetition" deals to gain mind share and market share for management software.
Finisar Systems, a division of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Finisar Corp., last week launched a product putting Fibre Channel, Ethernet and SCSI into one device called the GTX 4.0. GTX 4.0 starts in the low $30,000 range for portable versions and at $69,000 for a rack-mounted version. "You can compare Fibre Channel going in one side and Ethernet going out the other," and that works in any combination of the three protocols, said Timothy Bean, vice president of engineering.
Finisar is also readying an iSCSI product for release next month, as well as a 10GB version of the GTX later this year, Bean said. Looking forward a year or two, Finisar would like to build a product to extend the length of captured datas meaningfulness and then stream that traffic to disk. Then users could analyze corrupted data in its actual context, instead of just in simulated contexts, he said.
Ancot has two new products due: A SCSI analyzer that records data at 320MB per second, which is twice as fast as the companys current product, will come later this month, and a Fibre Channel error injector, which will look for user-defined patterns of data passing by and will replace them with specific test data, will come later this quarter, said Peter Fletcher, senior vice president of the Menlo Park, Calif., company.
I-Tech, of Eden Prairie, Minn., also plans to release soon a major new product built on its current Fibre Channel testing system, a spokesman said, declining to elaborate.
For Imation Storage Consulting, the professional services arm of Oakdale, Minn.-based disk and drive maker Imation Corp., the testing products are invaluable, according to Bill Peldzus, the companys storage consulting manager. "Any lab wouldnt be worth its weight if we couldnt get down to the detail," he said. Imation uses all three companies testing products, he said.
"Each one of our engineers has a favorite, if you will, based on what they like," he said. The function of getting system information is useless without a good user interface, and that also is a personal preference, he noted. But the I-Tech product stands out for its scale and its ability to multitask. "You can … slice the box" so one engineer can use eight ports and another can use the other eight, he said.
In the future, products geared for real-time monitoring could be more useful than todays laboratory and fix-it implementations. "If we could see products that notice trends and could even make suggestions ... that would be incredibly invaluable," Peldzus said.