Network Analysis on the Go

Finisar QOS package monitors FC protocols to keep close tabs on SANs

Finisar Corp.s SAN QOS protocol analyzer package provides a comprehensive system for monitoring Fibre Channel protocols in storage area networks, quickly diagnosing problematic links with data provided by an FC protocol analyzer to help minimize maintenance costs and downtime.

Organizations that have or are planning a SAN deployment should consider this hardware/software combination, which was easy to use and provided accurate information in eWeek Labs tests.

The SAN QOS package, which was released last month, is the first SAN FC protocol analyzer system eWeek Labs has seen. It has three components: the ProbeFC hardware device, the ViewFC client application and the Portal software, which runs on a server to communicate with the ProbeFC and record data.

The ProbeFC connects to the FC link in a SAN to provide continuous monitoring of FC protocols. The ProbeFC can monitor interactions between every device on the link—from the initiator (host), the target (storage arrays) and the individual disk drives.

The ProbeFC reports data to the Portal software running on a Windows 2000 or Windows NT server. A single Portal server can manage all the data received from multiple ProbeFC units placed strategically to monitor vital FC links in a SAN. The ProbeFC communicates with the Portal server via an Ethernet network. The ViewFC software provides a management point for data manipulation and ProbeFC configuration and firmware upgrades.

The standard configuration (the ProbeFC hardware and Portal software with a license for 16 ProbeFCs and multiple ViewFC clients) costs $19,995. Finisar also offers a $13,500 package consisting of one ProbeFC and the Portal software bundled with the ViewFC client for one host computer. This is the version we tested: Both the Portal software and the ViewFC client were installed on the same server.

In tests, the SAN QOS system provided comprehensive run-time reports of SAN metrics, statistics and events. When we connected the ProbeFC to an MTI Corp. SAN array through an in-line FC link, we could easily monitor the SCSI statistics of a SAN storage array, FC link and error events, and even management frames.