Individual model offerings for the new UltraNet Multi-Service Director (UMD) family will range from the UMD-2, for branch and remote offices; to UMD-7, for midsize businesses and small data centers; to UMD-16, supporting up to 256 nonblocking ports of Fibre Connection (FICON) and/or Fibre Channel.
Rounding out the product set is UMD-32, which scales up to 512 ports for large enterprises and service providers, said Doug Ingraham, senior director of SAN switching at Minneapolis-based Computer Network Technology (CNT).
Model 16 of UMD, featuring new interface blades for Fibre Channel, FICON and Enterprise Manager, will be available in August. Next up, UMD-2 is set for release in the first half of 2005 and will include WAN (wide area network), 10GB Fibre Channel, and Storage Services support.
Set for the second half of 2005, model 7 will be equipped with blades for iSCSI and 4 Gbits. On the horizon for early 2006, UMD-32 is set to support 10GbE, according to CNT officials.
By offering a flexible upgrade path that can climb from 1 Gbps to 2 Gbps to 4 Gbps to 10 Gbps, CNTs UMD platform is designed to connect multiple SAN islands into a centralized management framework capable of bolting on a variety of extension services.
These services include virtualization, protocol support for iSCSI, FICON, FCIP, security, and CNTs WAN and MAN (metropolitan area network) connectivity. UMD features active-active load sharing and fail-over, reporting, diagnostics and hot-swap functionality.
"SANs are growing up. Customers cant predict when there are peak loads and where theyre going to come from, or the impact [on performance] as they change computing or storage infrastructure," Ingraham said. "Because of the ability to add different service blades, customers can change the personality of the director as they evolve their storage networks."
Customer demand for multiple protocol services via a new blade that easily slides into a chassis will be fueled in the next 12 to 18 months by various hardware and software consolidation projects that reduce infrastructure cost and complexity, said Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst at Boston-based Yankee Group.
"I think people have been putting off major buying decisions and major upgrades to [storage] infrastructure for a few years. You can only put off necessary upgrades for so long [before] youre ready for advanced services," Balaouras said. "CNT is in a good position when customers do become more sophisticated and are ready to take the next step."