EMC Corp. is developing storage router software that company officials said will use virtualization technology to help large-enterprise customers combat the complexity of growing SANs.
The software, known internally as "Storage Router," will let customers migrate data among the disk arrays in a storage area network without shutting down or affecting the applications using the data, EMC officials said.
Storage Router will enter beta testing next quarter. The storage giant expects to make the product generally available to customers in the first half of 2005.
Customers and other vendors have been anticipating a software virtualization product from EMC since December, when the Hopkinton, Mass., company said it would acquire VMware Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. VMware software enables multiple operating systems to run on a single chip and lets IT departments move live applications from one server to another without interruption.
EMC partnered with switch vendors Cisco Systems Inc. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc., both of San Jose, Calif., and McData Corp., of Broomfield, Colo., to develop technology to build intelligent storage routing capability into the networking companies switch fabrics. The result will allow the dynamic routing of data, or virtualization, said Mark Lewis, vice president of open software at EMC.
Lewis said Storage Router at first will be tailored for large-enterprise customers dealing with SANs that are becoming bigger and more complex. As this growth occurs, the tolerance for planned and unexpected downtime of storage arrays shrinks.
EMC will work with standards organizations to figure out how best to provide APIs so Storage Router can work with intelligent switch fabrics.
For technology such as a storage router to work, "you cant have latency, you cant have bandwidth impact—thats been the knock on the early virtualization tools," said Greg Schulz, an analyst at Evaluator Group Inc., in Denver. "Theres going to be a lot of bandwidth needed for doing the heavy data movement."
When considering storage virtualization, customers may also consider IBMs SAN Volume Controller and Veritas Software Corp.s Volume Manager products. But all virtualization products have strings attached.
"Anybody who believes by simply putting in virtualization, youve eliminated vendor lock-in, theyre [mistaken]," said Schulz. "Buyers beware—the vendor lock-in doesnt go away, it just moves to another place."