HP, NetApp Build NAS-to-SAN Links

New software programs enable storage silos to connect with one another.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Network Appliance Inc. are building connectors across their respective network-attached storage devices to storage area networks to help customers more efficiently manage their increasing volumes of data.

New software coming from both companies aims to unify storage management by attaching NAS gateways to SANs, thus consolidating file servers and enabling applications to access data from independent NAS devices.

"Our storage requirements have exploded and gone right through the roof," said Ramesh Viswanathan, director of computer and network administration at Siemens Corporate Research Inc., a unit of Siemens AG, in Princeton, N.J. "What [users] dont understand is by bringing all that storage locally [to NAS devices], youre making it so much harder to manage and back up. ... You just cant do it."

To help customers seamlessly marry file-based and cluster-based storage architectures, HP in December will launch a new NAS-to-SAN software offering. The product is aimed at users of the HP StorageWorks NAS 2000 device who are looking to repurpose NAS appliances as HP StorageWorks 4000s SAN gateways. Based on the same hardware, the software will be available for a simple license upgrade and offers a clear path for users seeking to migrate to a storage-cluster-capable operating system, said HP officials in Palo Alto, Calif.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about HPs StorageWorks Grid strategy.

In addition, HP next month will announce a new NAS management simplification tool to ease storage management burdens on network administrators, according to sources familiar with the companys plans.

These moves are in harmony with HPs introduction last week of a new iSCSI Feature Pack, which lets small- and midsize-business customers consolidate data from file and print servers, Microsoft Corp. Exchange servers, and Microsoft SQL Server databases onto one platform.

NetApp, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is laboriously integrating code into its NAS platform from its purchase of software maker Spinnaker Networks Inc. last year. The technology will enable customers to achieve higher performance and scale beyond NetApps two-node cluster active-active failover configuration by adding more nodes to the cluster at will. These new capabilities are expected to appear next year in NetApps Data OnTap operating system upgrades, according to sources close to the company.

To ease storage management woes associated with capacity overflow, NetApp and Rainfinity Inc. next week will announce that NetApps NearStore product line will support Rainfinitys new storage application modules. The modules enable administrators to identify, analyze and resolve bottlenecks within a storage environment without affecting application usage, said officials at Rainfinity, in San Jose, Calif.

SCRs Viswanathan, a NetApp customer, welcomes any help he can get with managing his data, particularly given the merging of two Siemens units that resulted in a complex storage architecture. Viswanathan is currently using iSCSI for his SAN to keep his companys medical image inventory in check while keeping storage costs and complexity manageable.

"We didnt want to get sold into another SAN solution, which is a pretty steep learning curve, so we started looking at how we can better capitalize our [existing] NetApp infrastructure knowledge," said Viswanathan. "So we took the iSCSI plunge."

Laurie Beam, who runs an interconnected NAS and SAN environment using EMC Corp. hardware and software, said that joining the two architectures let her company shave costs by holding off on the purchase of fiber-based networking switches. "The beauty of it for us was from a price perspective we didnt have to use fiber switches. We can buy that later," said Beam, IT director for Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, in Raleigh, N.C. "We had to do some consolidating, and since were midsize, we had to do so with a midsize price tag."

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