Sandial Stakes Claim to First Intelligent Network Services Platform


Sandial Systems has unveiled a new storage management platform that the company claims "ushers in a new era of Intelligent Network Services."

Hyperbole aside, at least one analyst is impressed.

"While some vendors are focused on bringing storage services like replication and virtualization into the switch, Sandial has developed a system that delivers true network intelligence, which has a direct impact on application performance," says Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "No other vendor provides this level of visualization, analysis, and control over network performance."

Marrone-Hurley says Sandial's new ShadowWorks Backbone Management Platform "provides a comprehensive perspective of network and application performance issues" and lets users dynamically allocate network resources to address those issues.

The Backbone Management Platform hosts a variety of software modules that deliver value-added network services such as network performance profiling, time-of-day network policy configuration, service level agreement (SLA) administration, and network policy emulation, among others.

ShadowWorks Network Performance Profiler

ShadowWorks Network
Performance Profiler Report

(Click to enlarge)

The company also unveiled the first of those modules, the ShadowWorks Network Performance Profiler. The profiler analyzes network traffic trends over time so users can "proactively architect strategic SANs and discover new opportunities to improve application performance through network policies," Sandial says.

Other planned modules will deliver advanced policy configuration, SLA administration, network accounting and billing, network policy emulation and staging, and network protocol and traffic analysis.

"The better correlation we can draw between network behavior and application performance, the more effective we can be in supporting business-level requirements," says Sandial product marketing director Eric Blonda.

The platform and modules get their intelligence from ConnectIQ, Sandial's connection-oriented switching architecture launched in February as the foundation of the company's Shadow 14000 Storage Backbone Switch.

The ShadowWorks Network Performance Profiler module uses ConnectIQ to profile network performance over time at the connection, policy, switch, and network level, creating a "SAN Performance Index" that gives administrators visibility into overall network performance and utilization. Through the index, administrators can determine how efficiently their network resources are being utilized, whether congestion is affecting application performance, and how well their host and storage resources are aligned throughout the network.

The profiler also provides SAN hotspot analysis, so administrators can visualize problem conditions and drill down into the source to determine when, where, and how congestion is affecting application performance and how effectively storage controllers are able to service initiator demand.

Blonda reports Sandial's technology is catching on quickly, with 30 customers and $3 million in revenues so far.

The new platform, he says, is "definitely a money-saver," maximizing bandwidth and diagnosing problems to "avoid under-buying or overbuying."

"Instead of having to upgrade servers or memory, it could be a transport-level problem," he says, citing an example.

Pricing for the ShadowWorks Backbone Management Platform and ShadowWorks Network Performance Profiler starts at $14,950.

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