MXV320 Consolidates NAS, Storage Virtualization

Maxxan Systems Inc.'s MXV320 Intelligent Storage Area Network Switch is a director-class SAN switch that can run storage applications.

Maxxan Systems Inc.s MXV320 Intelligent Storage Area Network Switch is a director-class SAN switch that, when coupled with the SA200f blade, can run storage applications.

Like its smaller counterpart, the SA100f , the MXV320 can run FalconStor Software Inc.s IPStor and will run Microsoft Corp.s Storage Server 2003 on its application blades. This will allow IT managers to consolidate network-attached storage and storage virtualization functions on a single switch.

The MXV320, which began shipping last month, has a starting price of $100,000.

The scalability of the MXV320 was impressive in eWEEK Labs tests. A single MXV320 can have as many as 160 ports per chassis: Using a connector at the back of the switch, two MXV320 chassis can be linked to bring the port count up to 320 1G-bps Fibre Channel ports.

Although running higher-performance 2G-bps Fibre Channel blades cuts the MXV320s capacity in half (to 80 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports per chassis), this is still a large number of ports.

The MXV320 can convert ports (as many as five per blade) from Fibre Channel to Fibre Channel-over-IP Gigabit Ethernet ports on the fly. This feature will be extremely useful for sites that plan to add IP storage capabilities to their SANs or are looking to leverage IP WANs to replicate data to remote sites.

The SANCruiser storage management software bundled with the MXV320 gives the unit much of its strength. SANCruisers network management functions are fairly powerful, and we liked the softwares unique drag-and-drop zone configuration tool, which allowed us to choose multiple storage elements and drag them into zones.

SANCruiser also includes useful performance monitoring tools and discovery and topology mapping capabilities. However, as we noted in the SA100f review, we were disappointed that SANCruiser does not currently have the ability to manage SA100f appliances.

As one might expect of a director-class switch, the MXV320 supports hot expansion (the ability to add ports on the fly) and nondisruptive firmware upgrades that keep the switch up-to-date with minimal downtime.

Redundant power, cooling and system controller cards eliminate possible failure points within the switch. A single MXV320 chassis stands 20U (35 inches) tall and fits in a standard rack.