Storage UPDATE--Today's Technologies, Tomorrow's Products--May 3, 2004

Combining Today's Technologies to Make Tomorrow's Products 

Despite their need for comprehensive storage management solutions, many small and midsized businesses are reluctant to consider the benefits that a Storage Area Network (SAN) can bring to their business. Although they find the idea of a SAN very attractive when faced with the expenditures necessary to build the infrastructure, small businesses have difficulty justifying the cost.

Well aware of the opportunity in the small and midsized business market, Microsoft released Windows Storage Server 2003 specifically as a cost effective storage platform that would appeal to a broad subset of the storage server customer base But to make Windows Storage Server into a platform for SANs Microsoft added support for Internet SCSI iSCSI so that customers could build storage networks running over their existing IP infrastructures But the addition of iSCSI initiators to Windows Storage Server provides only one of the basic building blocks necessary to build a SAN without a dedicated infrastructure

This week, FalconStor Software introduced iSCSI Storage Server powered by IPStor for Windows Storage Server 2003. iSCSI Storage Server uses FalconStor Software's IPStor technology to provide aggregation and provisioning of iSCSI storage hardware through Windows Storage Server iSCSI Storage Server makes SAN devices visible as available storage to application hosts throughout the Windows network on an existing IP network iSCSI Storage Server brings together all the pieces necessary to build and manage a SAN that integrates easily with your existing Windows Server infrastructure.

The cornerstones of the offering are management backup and disaster recovery. iSCSI Storage Server's management capabilities aggregate and provision iSCSI disks making storage available to application hosts such as Exchange or Microsoft SQL Server without necessitating application downtime. In conjunction with third party disk-to-disk backup options, a centralized backup target facilitates backup. Disaster recovery starts with complete support for Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Microsoft Cluster Services (MSCS) then adds a mirror service along with FalconStor Software's own cluster service which doesn't require MSCS and Snapshot Service. a delta based point in time data imaging feature designed to protect against accidental file deletions virus damage and application corrupted files. Additionally, a delta based replication service lets administrators recreate server data across any IP network to provide offsite data recovery capabilities.

Looking at the capabilities that iSCSI Storage Server brings to the table doesn't reveal revolutionary changes to the storage management model or advances in storage server technology. What it does show is a well thought out product that consolidates the major advantages of storage management and iSCSI, all of which can be found in other standalone products into one product that can use the technology that Microsoft and Windows Storage Server hardware ISVs already offer in their storage products.

iSCSI Storage Server is an early entry into what is sure to be a well received field. If you're looking to build a Windows based storage solution, the FalconStor Software offering is worth your consideration.

Cisco and IBM Team to Target Mainframe SANs

Cisco Systems and IBM announced that IBM will resell Cisco MDS 9000 Family multilayer directors and fabric switches that incorporate Fiber Connectivity (FICON) related features. IBM has qualified the FICON related features and will use them to offer Cisco Storage Area Network (SAN) switches to its mainframe customers.

An interface for mainframe connections to storage devices, FICON provides high speed I.O Cisco added FICON and FICON Control Unit Port (CUP) management support to its Cisco MDS 9000 products when it updated the OS late last year. FICON features from Cisco include extending FICON over IP networks by using Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP). "These new Cisco MDS 9000 features and products help IBM deliver even more flexible SAN configurations for reliable, scalable, and cost effective storage backup consolidation and business continuity solutions across open systems and mainframe environments," said Cindy Grossman director of disk marketing IBM Storage Systems.

Among the features IBM has qualified for resale are added support to the IBM TotalStorage Virtual Tape Server (VTS) and Extended Remote Copy (XRC) technology for use over FICON and FCIP. The company also made available support for data replication services with the IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller over FCIP. The new features and products will be available from IBM and its partners on May 7.

Sony Aims Blue Lasers at Professionals

Professionals looking for storage solutions now have another option, courtesy of a new product from Sony Electronics. Sony has introduced optical storage technology that uses blue violet lasers, aka blue lasers. The company is now shipping Professional Disc for DATA PDD media that takes advantage of blue laser technology instead of using the traditional red lasers common in most optical solutions today. The new media features 23.3GB of storage capacity per disc and transfer speeds of 11MBps read and 9MBps write. Blue lasers have shorter wavelengths than red lasers, enabling storage of as much as four times more data on the same size media compared with red laser based CD ROMs, DVDs, and magneto optic (MO) technologies. Blue laser optical storage technologies, such as Sony's Professional Disc for DATA format, overcome the capacity and performance limitations of current professional disc storage formats. "The advanced imaging and editing requirements of broadcast and medical companies will particularly benefit from the 23GB capacity of Professional Disc for DATA," said Wolfgang Schlichting, research director for removable storage at IDC.

Sony aims to double the capacity and performance of PDD technology from each generation to the next. Second generation PDD technology is scheduled to be released in 2005 and will feature 50GB of storage capacity on a single sided double layer disc with transfer rates that the company expects to reach 18MBps. In 2007, the third generation PDD will reach 100GB by using double sided media. Transfer rates should reach 36MBps.

PDD uses technology similar to the emerging Blu-ray Disc storage technology, but PDD is targeted at businesses. In contrast, Blu-ray Disc is targeted at consumers and is currently available only in Japan. PDD and Blu-ray discs aren't interchangeable. PDD discs retail for about $45 and are available from Sony channel partners. PDD drives autochangers and libraries are also available

Gain Insight into Storage Assets

Atempo announced Atempo Storage Assessor (ASA), a service that catalogs data storage assets and reviews capacity utilization helping IT managers understand storage use by server database application location and user. The service can gather information on complex storage objects and help evaluate potential supporting strategies such as backup to disk archiving policies and disk to disk to tape migration.