To soften storage costs and enable greater storage resource utilization, IBM is embedding iSCSI support and broader third-party storage array interoperability into its TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller for Cisco Systems Inc.s MDS 9000 switch.
This week IBM unveiled the newest component of its growing storage virtualization portfolio at the IBM Storage Networking Symposium in Las Vegas. Downloadable from the Web, enhancements to the IBM SVC for the Cisco 9000 include support for storage arrays such as EMC Corp.s CLARiiON, as well as other midrange systems from Hewlett-Packard Co., and Hitachi Data Systems. This allows storage administrators to move low-activity or inactive data into a lower-cost storage paradigm, said Jens Tiedemann, vice president of TotalStorage Open Software, for Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM.
Available since December, the solution unites embedded IBM SVC software into a pair of Caching Services Modules for the Cisco MDS 9000 family of switches and directors to administer volume management, data replication and point-in-time copies directly from the network.
A second major enhancement developed by IBM and Cisco to break out the use of storage handled by virtualization software in the Cisco MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module is support for iSCSI connectivity. Previously, the integrated technology only supported devices connected through the Fibre Channel protocol.
Despite slow to moderate iSCSI adoption, Tiedemann said IBM is banking on a "big breakthrough" of the iSCSI protocol to deliver improved access to storage over long distances and beefed-up data protection.
As a user of IBM SVC for the Cisco MDS 9000 running IBM FastT600 Turbo storage boxes, Claus Kalle, manager of the Operating Systems Department at the University of Cologne in Germany, has iSCSI pegged to play a significant role in his universitys SAN (storage area network).
"iSCSI will be our tier 2 SAN platform. While we are running [Fibre Channel] in our machine room for tier 1 hosts, quality and performance requirements, we will run iSCSI on our enhanced [10 Gigabit] campus backbone for campuswide SAN access," said Kalle. "I expect more and more iSCSI equipment to show up on the market—cheap and powerful, and more suited to a universitys money resources than the expensive Fibre Channel," options such as HBAs, switches and disks.
Kalle said he believes SAN environments are on the verge of enabling intelligence to shift from storage controllers and/or host clients to the storage network itself. By being integrated into the network switch device without extra cabling required, he said the IBM SVC Cisco MDS is poised to push virtualization to new boundaries.
"With virtualization we get much better usage of real storage—with the still-to-appear late allocation feature—and a better and easier match between storage quality requirements and realization," Kalle said.
Next on tap for IBM to tackle in terms of storage virtualization is the level of orchestration or automation of workflows, Tiedemann said.
EMC also has its eye on plying switch vendors role to boost storage utilization. The Hopkinton, Mass., storage vendor is working with Cisco, Brocade Communication Systems Inc. and McData Corp. to integrate its software onto switches to build a Storage Router product aimed at users with massive storage needs. EMC officials have said the product will be available in the second half of 2005.