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October 21, 2002—In this issue:
- Shared Storage for the Masses
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Storage Vendors Announce Storage Management Effort
- Quantum Spins Off NAS Assets
- Subscribe to Windows & .NET Magazine and Receive an eBook Gift!
- Get Connected with Connected Home
- Storage Highlight: Exchange 5.5 Recovery Servers
- Featured Thread: Deleting System Restore Points
- Submit Top Product Ideas
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Combine RAID 5 and ATA Technology
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Tom Clark, Storage UPDATE Contributing Editor, [email protected])
Although the steady penetration of Storage Area Networks (SANs) into the market continues, it has so far been limited largely to top-tier companies and institutions. By generous estimates, less than 20 percent of the potential market for shared-storage solutions has actually adopted SANs. This low percentage is due in part to high acquisition costs of Fibre Channel storage and to the complexity and management concerns associated with SAN technology. Although small and midsized businesses can also benefit from the storage consolidation, tape backup, and high-availability applications that SANs enable, making the transition from Direct Attached Storage (DAS) to shared storage with limited budget, staff, and SAN expertise is often difficult. However, new SAN products are facilitating this change by reducing acquisition costs and maximizing use of existing corporate network infrastructures.
The Internet SCSI (iSCSI) host adapters, IP storage switches, and iSCSI-to-SCSI bridge products now available are changing the composition of SANs. Homogeneous Fibre Channel fabrics must now accommodate IP networking, both for classic SAN extension applications such as disaster recovery and for heterogeneous mixtures of iSCSI and Fibre Channel end devices. With the introduction of native iSCSI interfaces on storage arrays in early 2003, the multiprotocol composition of SANs will shift even more dramatically toward IP. And as the IP content increases, the market penetration of SANs will also increase. Companies that couldn't previously assume the burden of cost and complexity of Fibre Channel fabrics now have options for implementing SANs that conform to the rest of their data communications networks.
Large networking vendors, such as Intel, are driving down the cost of iSCSI host adapters (i.e., storage accelerators or storage NICs). Justifying the installation of a $1200 Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) in a $2000 server was difficult, but justifying a $600 iSCSI card that accomplishes the same task is easier, and plugging the iSCSI adapter into a standard Gigabit Ethernet switch port instead of a dedicated Fibre Channel switch cuts the per-port cost roughly in half. iSCSI host attachment eliminates other costs as well, such as the cost of special equipment otherwise needed to extend SAN connectivity over a distance. Standard IP switches and routers provide the SAN transport regardless of physical location.
Systems still require IP storage switches to bring Fibre Channel storage and end devices into an IP SAN but currently don't offer a significant cost savings over Fibre Channel fabric switches. Financially, the benefit of IP storage switches is primarily in cost avoidance. For example, IP storage switches enable both Fibre Channel and iSCSI hosts to access Fibre Channel storage targets over traditional IP networks. This solution avoids the cost of implementing and managing a Fibre Channel fabric, with its complexity and requirement for special diagnostic tools and expertise.
iSCSI-to-SCSI bridges open up the mass IT market to SAN solutions. These products enable customers to bring their legacy SCSI disk arrays and tape devices into a shared IP SAN. Unlike the previous generation of Fibre Channel-to-SCSI bridges, connectivity to the SAN no longer mandates expensive Fibre Channel switches or Fibre Channel hosts. Instead, SCSI storage can be bridged to a common IP network infrastructure and shared by iSCSI-attached servers. As an add-on value, some vendors are integrating storage-virtualization capability into iSCSI-to-SCSI bridges so that even small and midsized businesses can enjoy the benefits of storage pooling. Collectively, iSCSI adapters, IP storage switches, and iSCSI-to-SCSI storage concentrators are bringing shared storage solutions to a broad spectrum of customers.
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2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Keith Furman, [email protected])
Several members of the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) have announced plans, independent of SNIA, to begin promoting and deploying SNIA's Common Information Model (CIM), Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology, and Storage Management Initiative (SMI) specifications (formally known as Bluefin) for Storage Area Network (SAN)-based storage management. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM, Sun Microsystems, and VERITAS Software (see URLs below) support this effort to help deliver CIM-compliant products and to develop interoperability guidelines and testing.
The plan is open to any storage company willing to meet guidelines outlined by the founding companies. Storage companies involved in the effort will have to ship CIM- and WBEM-based storage management software commercially in 2003, support SNIA's emerging SMI specification, make their CIM providers available to others for testing, conduct joint interoperability testing, and support the Distributed Management Task Force's (DMTF's) CIM/WBEM interface.
Noticeably absent from the announcement were storage giants EMC and Hewlett-Packard (HP—see URLs below). Both companies were invited but declined to join. EMC and HP believe that efforts already underway by SNIA address the goals set out by the new effort.
"We were invited, but we felt it was totally redundant, potentially confusing to customers, not to mention irrelevant," said HP spokesman Mark Stouse. "HP doesn't see a need to create another alliance. Basically, it's a publicity ploy." EMC spokesman Greg Eden added, "It isn't clear that this alliance provides anything more than a marketing opportunity for the companies involved. We would need to be convinced otherwise."
Storage manufacturer Quantum (see URL below) has agreed to spin off its Network Attached Storage (NAS) business, currently marketed under the Snap Server and Guardian brands. The spinoff will form a new company called Snap Appliance. The move is part of Quantum's restructuring plan, which calls for the company to focus exclusively on data protection.
Under the agreement, Snap Appliance will purchase Quantum's NAS assets for $11.3 million and will employ many of Quantum's NAS employees. The plan also includes the option for Quantum to receive up to $1.9 million in additional consideration in connection with future financing. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the month.
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If you haven't seen Connected Home Online lately, you're missing the definitive resource to help you tackle home automation, install a home network, set up a home theater, and much more. Visit today, and while you're there, check out this article on installing a 100Mbps home network: http://www.connectedhomemag.com/networking/articles/index.cfm?articleid=24765 . Check it out!
Each month, the Storage Admin channel highlights several articles about important storage topics such as backup and recovery, storage-related hardware and software, and application-specific storage. This week, take a look at Jerry Cochran's "Using a Recovery Server in an Exchange 5.5 Environment." Jerry discusses the idea behind an Exchange recovery server, which is to maintain a spare server that you can use as a target location for recovery operations.
Adrian wants to know whether it's possible to remove old system restore points. To read more about the problem or offer your expertise, use the following link:
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]
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Promise Technology announced the FastTrak SX4000, a 4-channel ATA RAID 5 host adapter card designed for small servers and professional workstations that run Windows or Linux. The FastTrak SX4000 can transfer data at rates as fast as 165MBps. The host adapter card supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, and Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD) by using as many as four standard Ultra ATA drives. Included Promise Array Management (PAM) software works through TCP/IP and lets users manage and monitor all array components, schedule standard data maintenance procedures, and set up automatic email notification for crucial array events. Pricing is $169. Contact Promise Technology at 408-228-6300.
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