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Veritas, Cisco Offer Alternative to Pricey Storage

VERITAS Software and Cisco Systems are teaming up to make storage simpler and more cost effective. The two companies Monday said 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.'s 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, said 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 at a much less expensive price than a large, enterprise-class storage machines that costs much as $1 million.

With the move, Maness said, 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 said the product won't have the bells and whistles of those large products, but argued 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, which allows storage virtualization and fine storage 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," Maness said. "The switch is a great fit for an abstraction layer such as virtualization."

The Cisco MDS 900 switch, Maness said, 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, the software and hardware combo would replace the large storage arrays, which are essentially disks in a big box with a volume controller, he said, be "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 and storage controller ports with prices starting at $12,000. The product is available for 16, 32, 64 and 128 ports.