IBM, Cisco combine storage pooling technology

IBM and Cisco Systems announced yesterday that they have combined two products to enable the pooling or 'virtualisation' of storage capacity across multiple storage arrays for more efficient use of storage-area network (SAN) infrastructure.

IBM and Cisco Systems announced yesterday that they have combined two products to enable the pooling or "virtualisation" of storage capacity across multiple storage arrays for more efficient use of storage-area network (SAN) infrastructure.

IBM said it has ported its SAN Volume Controller software onto Cisco's Multilayer DataCenter Switch (MDS) 9000 series storage switches and directors. That will allow network administrators to automatically carve up chunks of storage capacity across several IBM array models, and eventually other vendors' boxes.

The products are due out in December, according to Ed Chapman, senior director of product management at Cisco.

Jay Morgan, storage manager at SafeLite Autoglass in Columbus, Ohio, said he's looking forward to testing the new switches. Morgan said the devices could help him consolidate his 13TB SAN, which includes disparate islands of high-performance IBM Shark arrays and TotalStorage FAStT 700 arrays.

"It would [also] give me the ability to tier my storage, from low-cost to middle-tier to high-performance storage," Morgan said. "I'll be able to move data back and forth without affecting the machines associated with it. I can transition up and down among that storage hierarchy without affecting the other users."

Cisco's Chapman said IBM and Cisco spent two years in joint development of a line card that runs SAN Volume Controller on the MDS 9216 switch, and on 9506 and 9509 directors.

Chapman said dynamic provisioning of storage from the SAN switches will also allow users to avoid taking servers or storage subsystems off-line as changes or upgrades are required.

The switches and directors are quality-of-service mechanisms that allow systems administrators to prioritize data traffic or logical unit number traffic, Chapman said. "In the future, you'll be able to install an [IP] service module for iSCSI [Internet SCSI] or FCIP [Fibre Channel over IP] protocol support."

On the host side, in the initial release, the switches will interoperate with Intel-based servers running the Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Red Hat Linux Advanced Server operating systems. The system will also support IBM's AIX, HP-UX and Sun Microsystems 's Solaris.

On the target side, the switches will support IBM's high-end TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server and TotalStorage FAStT 500, 600, 700 and 900 models.

The entry-level retail cost for the SAN Volume Controller module for the MDS 9000 series switches and directors, for control of up to 2TB of storage, will be $US112,000.

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