Storage UPDATE, April 28, 2003

Storage UPDATE, April 28, 2003


Storage UPDATE--brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network



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April 28, 2003--In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY - Put Your Toe in Networked Storage

2. NEWS AND VIEWS - Adaptec Launches Serial Attached SCSI Initiative - Windows Server 2003 Ships with Storage Enhancements

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Join the HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show! - Get Windows & .NET Magazine at 25% Off!

4. RESOURCES - Backup Exec Failing

5. NEW AND IMPROVED - Deploy Data Mobility Solutions with Your Fibre Channel Infrastructure - Submit Top Product Ideas

6. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.




(contributed by Mark Smith, [email protected])

* PUT YOUR TOE IN NETWORKED STORAGE One of the benefits that networked storage solutions confer is a significant reduction in the number of servers in your network through the consolidation of file and application data onto a smaller number of Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) devices. As I study the consolidation trend, I'm seeing impressive numbers--server reduction ratios in some cases as high as 10 to 1. One result of this reduction is that more data--specifically, an increase in the number of TCP/IP packets--must be jammed through a smaller number of pipes. Although Fibre Channel SAN devices aren't affected by TCP/IP traffic, the CPUs of NAS or iSCSI-based SAN devices are.

The TCP/IP protocol was designed to send data packets over great distances across unreliable connections. Because of the unpredictability of public networks, TCP/IP performs a lot of error correction handling to ensure that packets move safely and accurately from source to destination. This error handling delivers a performance hit to storage devices' CPUs. To address the problem, several vendors have developed TCP/IP offload engines (TOEs)--essentially add-on chips to NICs that fit inside existing NAS and iSCSI SAN devices. By offloading the TCP/IP overhead from the CPU, TOE cards can increase the throughput of a NAS or iSCSI SAN device.

Most iSCSI SAN solutions include TOE cards to guarantee the performance necessary to any enterprise setting. iSCSI, which uses the TCP/IP protocol, has a TCP/IP overhead that Fibre Channel solutions don't have. Because TOE cards reduce this overhead, they are typically included in iSCSI SAN solutions.

One vendor, Alacritech ( ), supplies TOE cards to NAS vendors, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, Sony, Pinnacle Systems, and Iomega. HP claims that adding Alacritech TOE cards to its NAS solutions increases system performance as much as 30 percent or more. Iomega recently introduced two high-end NAS products to its portfolio and includes Alacritech TOE cards with each solution. Iomega claims the TOE cards bring about an increase in performance as high as 20 percent. In addition to Alacritech, vendors Adaptec ( ), Intel ( ) and Xiran ( ) produce TOE cards. Xiran's partners include Sun Microsystems and RealNetworks, and Xiran emphasizes solutions for multimedia content delivery over TCP/IP.

Here's the bottom line. If you're looking for a mid- to high-end SAN solution, make sure it either comes with a TOE card or will let you add a card later. The ability to nail down an extra 20 percent to 40 percent in performance speed is a trick you'll want up your sleeve. Don't even bother with potential iSCSI SAN solutions unless a TOE card is included in the box. Getting a TOE in your networked storage solution can increase performance and possibly save you from a costly network upgrade or the purchase of additional storage devices.

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(contributed by Keith Furman, [email protected])

* ADAPTEC LAUNCHES SERIAL ATTACHED SCSI INITIATIVE Adaptec has launched a new initiative with Hard Disk Drive (HDD) manufacturers Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor, and Seagate Technology to promote the upcoming Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) standard. The initiative lets companies work together to design and test prototype SAS solutions. The initiative is similar to one launched last month by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and LSI Logic's Storage Standard Products, in which the two companies agreed to work together to help further the SAS standard.

Vendors that are part of the Adaptec initiative will also work to ensure that SAS interfaces will support Serial ATA (SATA) drives. The new SAS format is designed to support the recently released SATA format. The companies will work together to comarket SAS by giving prototype demonstrations, speaking at major trade shows, releasing white papers about implementing SAS solutions, and hosting seminars and Webinars. SAS solutions are expected to feature data transfer rates as fast as 3Gbps to 12Gbps.

* WINDOWS SERVER 2003 SHIPS WITH STORAGE ENHANCEMENTS Last week in San Francisco, Microsoft rolled out its long-awaited new Windows Server 2003 OS, which has many new storage features. The new OS is the first that Microsoft has released since forming its Enterprise Storage Division. Microsoft updated many storage-related tools in Windows 2003 and also added several important new features.

The new features include Virtual Disk Service (VDS), Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), and Automated System Recovery (ASR). Storage Area Network (SAN) support has been improved, and iSCSI support is coming in June 2003. VDS lets storage companies develop applications to manage groups of individual disks as a seamless whole, making storage simpler. VSS lets users make point-in-time copies of data by creating a shadow copy of the data. VSS makes backing up live data easier. ASR lets users recovery data quickly by making it possible to do easy bare-metal restores. Other updated tools include Check Disk Command (chkdsk.exe), which examines Windows volumes for errors, and an improved diskpart.exe utility, which expands disks as you need more space. Microsoft will deliver iSCSI support in June for Windows 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 Server.



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* BACKUP EXEC FAILING Forum member Fenris is using VERITAS Software's Backup Exec 8.5 to back up a Microsoft Exchange server. Fenris has a script that runs before the backup process, after shutdown, and again to restart Exchange services, but Backup Exec keeps failing because the Exchange store isn't responding. To lend a helping hand, join the discussion at the following URL:



(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])

* DEPLOY DATA MOBILITY SOLUTIONS WITH YOUR FIBRE CHANNEL INFRASTRUCTURE Nishan Systems announced that EMC has qualified Nishan's IPS 3300 and IPS 4300 storage routers for EMC SAN Copy. EMC SAN Copy provides host- and platform-independent copy and movement capabilities between EMC CLARiiON and Symmetrix networked storage systems. Nishan IP storage routers let users deploy data mobility solutions with their existing Fibre Channel-based infrastructure. For pricing, contact Nishan Systems at 408-519-3700.

* SUBMIT TOP PRODUCT IDEAS Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]



Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

* ABOUT THE COMMENTARY -- [email protected]

* ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL -- [email protected] (please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)


* PRODUCT NEWS -- [email protected]



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