VERITAS, Cisco Offer Affordable Storage Alternative -

VERITAS, Cisco Offer Affordable Storage Alternative

VERITAS Software and Cisco Systems are teaming up to make storage simpler and more cost effective. The two companies Monday announced they have bundled their software and hardware, respectively, on a product they hope will one day become the prime alternative to pricey storage systems from vendors such as IBM , EMC , and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) .

The VERITAS Storage Foundation for Networks combines volume management software from the Mountain View, Calif.-based storage software maker with the MDS 9000 suite of directors and switches from San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, in a joint product development to make more headway into the competitive storage area network (SAN) landscape.

Bob Maness, senior director of product marketing for VERITAS, says the solution will provide customers with the necessary tools to manage disk-based machines from disparate vendors using a combination of VERITAS' virtualization software and Cisco's switch hardware at a much less expensive price than large, enterprise-class storage machines that can cost as much as $1 million.

With the move, VERITAS is aiming to prove that its storage software is capable of powering a storage network when paired with a hardware device from another vendor, obviating the need for a large box. Maness says the product won't have the bells and whistles of those large products, but argues that most customers don't even use a lot of those features. With the VERITAS/Cisco product, the companies boast customers can start small and build on features and increments of scalability as they see fit.

The software/hardware combo runs on the Cisco Application Service Module (ASM) and operates through Fibre Channel ports to offer network capabilities, allowing storage virtualization and provisioning from a central console.

"What drives people toward putting function into a switch is that they want to centralize the environment for hosts, servers, and storage," maintains Maness. "The switch is a great fit for an abstraction layer such as virtualization."

The Cisco MDS 900 switch, according to Maness, serves as a connection device much like a computer. "The more layers one adds, such as virtualization, the more 'smarts' or intelligence you can put inside it." Ideally, says Maness, the software and hardware combo would replace the large storage arrays, which are essentially disks in a big box with a volume controller, by "decoupling" the disks from the controller in the box.

The VERTIAS/Cisco solution also works from one consolidated location, making data more accessible across heterogeneous server and storage environments. The VERITAS storage resource management software, SANPoint Control 3.6, manages the new product to integrate policy and performance management, storage provisioning, and zoning capabilities.

Cisco last week upgraded its MDS 900 switch, adding SAN management, security, and multiprotocol transport offerings.

Cisco rivals Brocade and McDATA also offer intelligent switches, and are working toward the same goal of bundling their products with software from other companies to serve as viable alternatives to large storage arrays.

VERITAS and the fabric vendors believe that by consolidating storage management services, businesses can improve utilization, lower management overhead, and reduce their operation costs.

VERITAS Storage Foundation for Networks is available now in standard and enterprise versions. The product is licensed in bundles of host bus adapter (HBA) and storage controller ports with prices starting at $12,000. The product is available with 16, 32, 64, or 128 ports.

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