RealTime IT News

Storage Players Lock Arms on Interops

The Storage Networking Industry Association -- made up of six competing data storage technology companies -- has unveiled its first brainchild: interoperability initiatives for data mirroring and extending storage area networks (SANs).

The SNIA, which includes Hitachi Data Systems (part of Hitachi ), and IBM , said it has just wrapped its testing on two jointly-developed open SAN projects. Now, it's time to lock arms and promote interopability ideals within the storage industry.

The group is touting a set of data backup and business continuity plans that essentially mix and match each other's competing tape backup, database, software and hardware products.

The other four members SNIA are Inrange Technologies , IBM's Tivoli Software division, LEGATO Systems , Storage Technology Corp. and VERITAS Software Corp.

Its offering comes as the one-year anniversary of September 11 approaches and businesses are reminded once again of the impact that placed data backup and continuity planning at the top of their agendas.

Since cost continues to be a major issue with back-up and continuity planning projects, SNIA said it has been working on promoting interoperability with data mirroring, seen by members as a cost-effective way to enable instant access to data while protecting data integrity between storage networks.

One new aspect of the group's joint offering includes the use of channel extension technology to combine remote SAN islands into a single fabric. The members say the approach illustrates the ability to mirror mission critical yet competing applications, such as IBM's DB2 and Oracle's database products, between different locations.

The idea is to help customers achieve interoperable, flexible ways in which to maintain their data availability and backup among products that often require extra development to make them work together.

Among the goals the SNIA has laid out in its initiative:

  • Maintain 24x7 operations with the ability to switch to a remote location for disaster recovery;

  • Run mission critical IT applications and mirror databases for business continuity;

  • Require a highly available, reliable, scalable SAN with the flexibility to add ports on demand without disrupting service or sacrificing performance;

  • Aggregate storage systems using independent software vendor offerings for path failover and load balancing;

  • Utilize and/or consolidate tape storage;

  • Connect remote SAN islands into a single fabric;

  • Require local or remote LAN-Free backup/recovery with drive sharing while supporting a full disaster recovery environment.
  • Eric Sheppard, research analyst at IDC, said the initiative is more than vendors hyping their products. "This announcement provides customers with a proven option for implementing high availability SANs for business continuity."

    That said, the SNIA announcement included some examples of integrating competing products:

  • INRANGE channel extension technology to create a single SAN fabric from two remote SAN islands;

  • A 192-port fabric, comprised of a 64-port INRANGE "IN-VSN FC/9000" Fibre Channel Director at the remote site, and 128-port FC/9000 at the primary site;

  • INRANGE "IN-VSN 9801" channel extenders to enable data mirroring between the two sites using Hitachi "TrueCopy" and IBM "PPRC";

  • IBM "Enterprise Storage Server" systems and Hitachi "Freedom Storage"aa systems, coexisting in the same data zone;

  • IBM "3494 Tape Library" with 3590E tape drives, and StorageTek "L700 Tape Library" with 9840 and 9940 tape drives, coexisting in the same data zone;

  • LEGATO "NetWorker" and IBM Tivoli "Storage Manager" software applications, tested as separately to perform LAN-free backup/restore of disk storage to/from tape libraries;

  • Complete path failover, dynamic multi-pathing and load balancing for all disk accesses using VERITAS "Volume Manager" with "Dynamic Multipathing (DMP)" disk storage volume-management software;

  • AIX, Sun, and Windows-based servers configured with access to all storage targets, operating across both disk and tape data zones;

  • Mirroring of DB2 and Oracle databases to maintain data availability and provide backup/recovery of IT applications.
  • "As data growth continues to explode and increasing demands are placed on existing storage networks, customers require proven, interoperable storage solutions that enable reliable methods of enterprise backup and recovery," said Warren Smith, a member of SINA's board and on the group's mirroring committee.

    He said as users continue to implement and expand SANs, mirroring provides a cost-effective method for both backup/recovery and for connecting SAN islands into a single fabric.