Storage Upstart Pledges Interoperability First

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After working in stealth mode for a couple years, Candera (formerly known as Confluence
Networks) Tuesday unveiled the first of what it hopes will be many
products — a storage controller for managing storage devices in a
heterogeneous network.

But while many firms craft similar devices for facilitating storage area
networks (SANs) (define), the Milpitas, Calif. concern is approaching
the enterprise market from a different angle. Candera President and CEO S.
Sundi Sundaresh said its core value is nailing down interoperability to give
storage managers the ability to choose between any switch, server or storage
provisions — before the flagship product even gets out of the gate.

This, he told, is unusual because most firms have a
product that they then try to make interoperable through API swaps or other
tinkering. But Candera, which does not yet have an official release date for
its controller, already has a program in place that knits multivendor
products together.

Sundaresh said Candera demonstrates interoperability and already
participates in other developer programs and API exchanges with major
vendors. Candera belongs to the Hitachi TrueNorth Developers Program, the
EMC Developers Program, and the Veritas Enabled Program.

Candera has already pumped money into a multi-million dollar
interoperability lab, too and its controller has been demonstrated at
Fortune 1000 beta customer sites. The company is also building interfaces on
existing and emerging industry standards such as the Storage Management
Initiative (SMI) (née Bluefin).

Sundaresh said customers have long been telling him that dealing with
multiple vendors whose products do not mesh is a pain, and that they wished
they could create one control point for storage, switches and servers from a
number of different vendors.

“There are other products that solve the problems in different ways,”
Sundaresh said. “Whether they’re switches or devices for hosting — they all
have pros and cons. The approach we’ve taken allows customers to get a much
more efficient use of capital and operations. The reality is that most
companies that make products say they will have interoperability, but they
don’t deliver on it.”

So it more along the lines of approach than actual product where Candera
will compete with other storage device makers such as Brocade or McData, —
on offering interoperability out of the box.

The push for widespread interoperability would all be for naught without
partnerships. Sundaresh said Candera has forged pacts with more than a dozen
vendors of Fibre Channel switches, storage arrays, host bus adapters (HBAs),
and software. These partners include EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM,
Brocade, McDATA, Emulex, Veritas and Microsoft.

Sundaresh said interoperability “means much more than merely being able to
see other devices and pass Fibre Channel frames,” noting that customers need
near- perfect operation and characterization of third-party devices despite
multiple input/output failings.

As for the controller, the architecture is different, Sundaresh said. It
models the behaviors and topologies of heterogeneous SAN components and
relies on object-oriented techniques to lend support for third-party
products. The controller features an internal inference engine that uses
these object models to optimize interaction between Candera systems and
other devices.

The company designed interoperability into the Candera architecture by
implementing an open platform with standards-based APIs that facilitate
third party application integration. Sundaresh said his firm “aggressively
sought” APIs from leading vendors to augment its development efforts.

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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