Fibre Channel SANs Put to Test

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2004-03-29

Network performance testing software vendors Agilent Technologies Inc. and Finisar Corp. are readying new tools to satisfy testing requirements around 4G-bps Fibre Channel storage and server offerings expected to be deployed by years end.

Agilent this week will unveil its 1733A SAN (storage area network) tester, which provides device virtualization, host bus adapter behavior emulation, a capture buffer for failure analysis and Fiber Connection device initialization. The software/hardware test system enables four-port Fibre Channel traffic generation at 2G bps or 4G bps with allowances for any combination of error, data, link, fabric control and fabric services tests, said officials in Palo Alto, Calif.

In addition, the Agilent 1733A test module can be used simultaneously with Agilents 1730A and 1730B platform in the same chassis, providing interoperability with the companys 1G-bps and 2G-bps modules.

Targeted for use with SAN hardware from vendors such as McData Corp., Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Computer Network Technology Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., the Agilent 1733A is due in May, priced at $40,000.

For its part, Finisar next month will announce Xgig Analyzer for 4G-bps Fibre Channel, said officials of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company. Currently in alpha testing, the Fibre Channel analyzer software is backward-compatible, meaning it can interoperate with Finisars 1G-bps and 2G-bps technology. Finisar also plans to announce that its 1G-bps and 2G-bps Xgig analyzers can analyze devices with as many as 64 ports. The company is readying a 10G-bps analyzer as well.

The biggest hurdle in deploying 4G-bps-ready storage products is users reluctance to make big investments in the technology, analysts say. However, improving economic conditions should loosen up funds for Fiber Channel testing software, they say.

Network equipment vendors, such as Brocade, are waiting to see the field emerge to determine what software developer can best address 4G-bps testing needs. "We will have [4G-bps] testing equipment in our engineering labs; you can be certain of that," said Derek Granath, director of product marketing for Brocade, in San Jose, Calif.

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