Vendors Target SAN Woes

FalconStor, AppIQ and Brocase set sights on ease of use and lower cost.

Second-tier storage hardware and software vendors are targeting areas such as improved performance, easier provisioning and lower cost to differentiate their products.

These vendors, which demonstrated new products at the Storage Decisions conference here last week, hope to stand out by addressing specific SAN (storage area network) issues such as how to most effectively use iSCSI (Internet SCSI) technology rather than chasing visionary ideas such as utility computing.

FalconStor Software Inc., for instance, introduced its iSCSI Storage Server, which enables small and midsize businesses to reap the benefits of a SAN without having to go through the Fibre Channel learning curve. The new software, designed to integrate with Microsoft Corp.s Windows Storage Server 2003, offers file-and-block services and is ideally suited for customers running Microsofts SQL Server database or Exchange messaging server, said FalconStor officials in Melville, N.Y.

iSCSI Storage Server is powered by FalconStors IPStor storage consolidation technology, which allows users to provision different types of storage devices—IP-based SANs or Fibre Channel SANs —and add a variety of services to the management layer. These services include SAN-based snapshots, data replication, and backup and restoration of application hosts that are attached to an IP/ iSCSI network, said FalconStor officials.

The management console of iSCSI Storage Server takes advantage of the built-in Web user interface of Windows Storage Server 2003.

Gauging the favorable reaction from storage managers at the conference, the tide may be turning for iSCSI to transform itself from a misunderstood storage network standard into a crucial component of enterprise storage systems.

Ken Walters, senior director of enterprise platforms for Public Broadcasting Service, said he was initially worried about iSCSI performance.

However, Walters said his fears were allayed once he made comparisons with local disk storage.

"I was prepared for it to be terrible, but I was pleasantly surprised at how plug-and-play it really was," said Walters in Alexandria, Va.

To help customers manage complex SANs consisting of products from multiple vendors, AppIQ Inc. announced at the show the availability of StorageAuthority Suite R3.1. The software offers new "path provisioning" capabilities that correct and error-proof new SAN allocation capacity for high-priority applications, said officials in Burlington, Mass.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., unveiled the SilkWorm 24000 Director, a networking device that connects servers and storage boxes to create a Fibre Channel SAN. The new device supports up to 128 ports, providing nonblocking 2G-bps full duplex connectivity. It also supports Fibre Channel and IBMs Fibre Connection protocol.

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