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MaXXan Rolls Out Next-Gen Storage Switch

Everyone talks about adding intelligence to SANs, but MaXXan Systems is actually doing something about it.

MaXXan has unveiled its second-generation intelligent SAN platform, which scales from 16 to 256 ports in a single chassis and up to 512 ports in a dual-chassis configuration, without using performance-reducing Inter-Switch Links (ISL). That means the full 512 ports can be configured and managed as a single intelligent fabric. The platform also uses Intel IXP2800 network processors to perform tasks that usually require pricey, inflexible ASICs.

MaXXan MXV500 Intelligent Switch

MaXXan MXV500
  

"While there has been much talk about intelligent SAN switches and fabrics, there has been relatively little intelligence that has actually come to market," says Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at the Taneja Group. "MaXXan has impressed me in that [it is] not only delivering on the promise of intelligent storage networking solutions, but even more so that it is already on its second generation."

MaXXan says the new MXV500 eliminates the need to deploy storage applications (intelligence) into host servers, independent appliances or array controllers. The company's SANe architecture design reduces operating expenses and overall management costs by centralizing the deployment and management of key storage applications such as virtualization, data replication, snapshot, mirroring, NAS and virtual tape in a heterogeneous IT environment. The platform provides support for both hardware and software deployed in the solution.

MaXXan Claims Smart SAN Lead

MaXXan CEO Vic Mahadevan claims the MXV500 gives the company a 12-to-18 month lead over the rest of the market.

"The SAN switch market is splitting into two segments, the ones that are capable of embedding intelligence and the ones that cannot," boasts Ravi Chalaka, MaXXan's marketing VP. "Intelligent SAN switches are designed to resolve two critical issues facing enterprise storage administrators: to simplify the deployment of SANs by centralizing the associated storage applications, and reducing the total cost of ownership."

The MXV500 uses a flexible blade design with Intelligent Line Cards (ILC1602) and application control cards (ACC). Each ILC1602 utilizes dual Intel IXP2800 network processors for high-performance and programmability that allows delivery of storage services at each port. The ILC1602 card's performance uses an embedded coprocessor and four levels of memory for processing complex port-based storage applications with low latency.

The MXV500 supports 1 and 2 Gbps Fibre Channel and is architected to support 4 and 10 Gbps Fibre Channel in the future. It also offers FC over IP protocol support for connecting SAN islands. The MXV500 will also support the iSCSI protocol via a simple software upgrade in the near future. The platform supports core storage services such as FC over IP, IP trunking, LUN masking and on-the-fly remapping, as well as higher-level applications like replication, snapshots, virtualization, NAS and virtual tape.

Pricing for a mid-sized configuration with two intelligent line cards (32 ports) and a single storage application card starts at around $95,000, and can be scaled for larger data center environments with hundreds of ports and multiple storage applications. MaXXan is also letting customers of its first-generation MXV320 Intelligent SAN Switch upgrade to the features offered in the MXV500.

"This second-generation solution from MaXXan is definitely worth a look from anyone currently evaluating switches for large-scale SAN deployments," says Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "Despite all of the hype, MaXXan is one of the few vendors in the market delivering director-class switching with intelligent storage services. The combination of the new processors and the intelligent blades make this a very powerful SAN infrastructure solution."

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