New Storage Offerings Reduce Complexity

Network Appliance, Cisco, Microsoft and others at the Storage Decisions show plan to unveil advanced storage management and backup recovery tools designed to help enterprises handle rapidly expanding data volumes.

Exploding data volumes and the increasing complexity of storage topologies are driving enterprise customers to look for better storage management and backup recovery tools.

Ready to assist these companies is a growing cast of hardware and software vendors, such as Storability Software Inc., Network Appliance Inc., LiveVault Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp., each of which will use the Storage Decisions show in Chicago this week to unveil new offerings that give users a better handle on data.

Storability will unveil Version 4.0 of its Global Storage Manager platform, which features a new application-aware Views capability that displays how much storage each application is using on a particular device. In addition, the upgrade, due in November, has change management and tracking features that identify infrastructure alterations. It also can spot all tapes in a storage environment containing expired backup images, said Storability officials in Southboro, Mass.

Storability customer Robert Bellanti, vice president of KeyBank, a subsidiary of KeyCorp, said he needs better storage automation and management tools to offset the need to hire more people.

"When I came to KeyBank, we had seven people managing 7 terabytes on the mainframe. Now we have five people managing 50 terabytes," said Bellanti in Cleveland. "You cant keep scaling your staff to manage the growing data. You need automation tools to be able to accomplish that."

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Other vendors are taking different approaches to solve similar storage management issues. NetApp, of Santa Clara, Calif., will introduce LockVault, software that secures unstructured data, including PDF files and Microsoft Word documents. The software automates backup of the information by copying and storing only blocks of data written since the most recent backup. The data cannot be edited or deleted before a specified expiration date.

LiveVault is also getting into the act with the announcement of a hosted version of its backup service called LiveVault AutoOffsite. Targeted for release in the first quarter, the new service provides assurance of off-site data protection by replicating backup images off-site for archiving and enhanced recoverability, said officials in Marlboro, Mass.

For its part, Cisco this week will unveil software features for the Cisco MDS 9000 Family of Multilayer Intelligent Directors and Fabric Switches to enhance SAN (storage area network) transfers and privacy while reducing WAN latency. Due next quarter, the new features include tape acceleration for Fibre Channel over IP to speed I/Os during remote backups, as well as hardware-assisted data compression over FCIP.

Microsoft is expected to introduce software partnerships that will put some strength behind a new push to provide automated disk-based backup and recovery, according to sources familiar with the Redmond, Wash., companys plans. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.

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