Unisys Enters Storage Management Arena

Unisys threw its hat into the storage management software ring today, with a new product called Storage Sentinel.

Unisys Corp. threw its hat into the storage management software ring today, with a new product called Storage Sentinel.

At the core of the product is virtualization, which is the concept of managing disparate storage categories and vendors as a single pool. The product will be available Sept. 4 and will initially work with various arrays from EMC Corp., IBM, Hitachi Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co., officials said. Details about which specific systems it will work with were not immediately available.

Costing about $200,000, the product includes several other vendors components. ATTO Technology Inc. makes the products two terabytes of internal disks; Brocade Communications Systems Inc. supplies the Sentinels pair of 16-port, 2 G-bit/second Fibre Channel switches; and StoreAge Networking Technologies Ltd. builds the core virtualization engine. Unisys expands on StoreAges software and assembles the parts in a 36u cabinet, said Jim Thompson, engineer director.

Storage Sentinel initially supports Windows, Linux and Solaris-based servers. An update due early next year will add support for the Common Information Model and possibly will include more management tools and topology monitoring functions, he said. Moreover, "Storage isnt just disks," Thomson noted, referring to other possible areas to virtualize, such as tape technology—an area thats also being considered by EMC.

In the past, Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pa., has only been involved in storage from a hardware perspective. The company initially made its own hardware for mainframes but exited the business by 1991, to resell EMCs then-new Symmetrix line. EMC has its own management software with its AutoIS strategy but so far hasnt announced a promised true virtualization product.

"I think its a good product," said David Hill, an industry analyst at Aberdeen Group, in Boston. Its price is high but not too much for large enterprises with mission-critical data, he said. But, he noted, Unisys, like many other companies jumping on the storage management bandwagon, may or may not be a vendor that users are prepared to buy from, compared to an incumbent like BMC Software Inc. or Veritas Software Corp. "Thats always the question," he said.

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