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University of Arizona consolidates networks with FCoE; Dataram enters solid-state market

Headlines: University reduces Ethernet cabling and saves FC switch ports by consolidating with Cisco Nexus FCoE switches, but end-to-end FCoE to storage arrays remains a long way off; Memory controller vendor Dataram wades into the current flash-as-cache vs. flash-as-disk debate with its new XcelaSAN storage acceleration device.

The University of Arizona consolidates networks with Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)

Although Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) implementations are in early days, The University of Arizona recently took the plunge with Cisco Systems Inc. Nexus FCoE switches and MDS Fibre Channel (FC) directors connected to Dell Inc. servers and EMC Corp. storage arrays.

Derek Masseth, senior director, infrastructure services at the university, estimates the institution saved more than $1 million in capital expenses, simplified cable management and saved power while upgrading to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE). In addition, Masseth said the upgrade saved him from having to add FC switching and put the university in position for potential end-to-end FCoE to the storage array down the road, although he isn't sure yet if that would be worthwhile.

As part of an overhaul of all of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that began in early 2008, the university installed 24 top-of-the-rack Nexus 5010 switches that support FCoE, and runs them though two Nexus 7010 core switches in the data center. Another Nexus 7010 switch sits in a disaster recovery site. The Nexus 5010 also connects to the school's storage-area network (SAN) through Cisco MDS 9509 FC directors.

Want to prepare customers for FCoE? Learn how here.

Dataram enters solid-state storage market with XcelaSAN

Dataram Corp.'s XcelaSAN is a new storage-area network (SAN) acceleration appliance that uses Flash and DRAM memory to cache active blocks for improved performance; it can also front any disk array without requiring changes to the storage or server environment.

XcelaSAN is a caching appliance that sits between a Fibre Channel (FC) switch and storage array. XcelaSAN automatically brings the most frequently used blocks of data in an FC SAN into DRAM and then NAND to speed performance. It works with any vendor's FC SAN, according to Dataram chief technologist Jason Caulkins. Unlike disk array-based solid-state drives (SSDs), the XcelaSAN isn't intended to be persistent storage. The appliance moves data to back-end hard disk drives.

The product is the first NAND product the memory controller maker has rolled out, although Caulkins said the 42-year-old company designed a kind of proto-SSD with a disk drive interface in 1976.

Read about flash-based solid state disk vs. DRAM-based solid-state disk.

HP expands Microsoft-based SMB network-attached storage offerings with Data Vault series

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. refreshed its Windows Server-based data storage hardware line today with the introduction of the small office/home office (SOHO) X500 Data Vault series and new high-availability (HA) options for its X3000 Windows Storage Server 2008 product line.

The first model of the X500 series to ship will be the X510, which holds up to 3 TB and is meant for office with up to 10 machines needing centralized data backup. It is priced at $699 for 1 TB, $859 for 2 TB and $999 for 3 TB.

The product ships with software that will automatically back up PCs with agents installed. Customers can add external drives with eSATA or USB to scale up the capacity. Any off-the-shelf 3.5-inch SATA drive can be used in the X510 Data Vault for internal expansion.

Read the rest of this article on HP's new SMB network-attached storage offerings.

LSI adds solid-state drive, iSCSI support to denser Engenio 7900 disk array

LSI Corp. gave the Engenio 7900 disk array a facelift this week with the addition of new support for STEC Inc. Fibre Channel (FC) solid-state drives (SSDs), Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI host connections, expanded cache and more storage density per cubic inch in a newly designed disk enclosure.

The new support for Ethernet and FC host connections with this release marks the first multiprotocol support in the product, which IBM sells as the System Storage DS5000 and Sun Microsystems Inc. sells as its Sun StorageTek 6000 Series Array through OEM deals with LSI. The controller unit supports up to eight network loop pairs to new DE6900 disk enclosures, and customers can mix and match up to eight FC or iSCSI network cards for a total of 16 ports. The same controller can now also be used with Fibre Channel-attached STEC ZeusIOPS SSDs.

The new enclosures were previously shipped with LSI's high-performance computing (HPC) systems and pack up to 480 drives into 36U with 16-drive, 3U building blocks under the 7900 controller head.

Learn four reasons why you should sell unified storage platforms.

AppAssure and InMage's continuous data protection apps include replication for disaster recovery

Continuous data protection (CDP) is well past the novelty phase in the enterprise data storage market, with the first generation of players in the space already swallowed up by bigger companies or out of business since the technology went through its first "hype cycle" in 2006.

More recently, users say they've been adding CDP to their environments with new products that combine the feature with other capabilities including application-specific protection and remote replication for offsite disaster recovery (DR). Riding that trend, at least two emerging vendors in this space have been quietly gaining momentum in 2009.

AppAssure: SMBs go for Microsoft-specific data protection

AppAssure Software Inc., founded in 2005, has survived while fellow continuous data protection players such as Revivio, Mendocino and Asempra were acquired in fire sales or closed their doors. AppAssure, which received one funding round worth $6 million in 2008, claims it has close to 1,000 customers and will be profitable next quarter. It recently updated its Replay software, adding the ability to send data to the cloud. Now the startup is looking to partner with hosted email management provider AppRiver to jointly offer email backup Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

"AppAssure has been flying under the radar for the last three years," Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Lauren Whitehouse said. "They've been out there sticking to their knitting."

Greg Thomas, IT manager for the Jackson County, W.Va., Courthouse, said he deployed AppAssure three months ago on nine servers. Most of the office data is created using Microsoft applications including Word and Excel.

Learn about thin replication for disaster recovery.

Brocade expands battlefield with Cisco to encompass Data Center Ethernet and FCoE

BOSTON -- Brocade Communications Systems Inc. officials laid out their roadmap for taking market share from chief rival Cisco Systems Inc. at their analyst day Tuesday, with an emphasis on making gains in Data Center Ethernet networks in addition to Fibre Channel (FC) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) as data center networks converge.

According to a presentation by chief financial officer Richard Deranleau, Brocade aims to maintain its FC storage-area network (SAN) market share over the next three years. The most recent Dell'Oro Group market share numbers put Brocade's share at 75.5% of the market. But following its acquisition of Ethernet equipment maker Foundry Networks Inc. last year, it's also looking to take an additional 4% share of the Cisco-dominated Ethernet market, Deranleau said, which would make Brocade's Ethernet revenue goals equal to its Fibre Channel revenue projections at $1.9 billion apiece by 2012.

Executives said their strategy for doing battle with Cisco in the Ethernet market rides on the strength of the company's OEM and channel partner relationships with large IT vendors, including Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and IBM.

Read the rest of this story on Data Center Ethernet and FCoE.

Virtual desktop infrastructure adds new wrinkle to data center storage management

As virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) gains traction among enterprises, storage pros are finding that administration of centralized data center storage to support virtual workstations in enterprise environments requires new approaches to capacity planning and performance management.

Centralized application deployment for workloads has been available for years through products that allow users on desktops and laptops to share access to data and applications through a centralized server. Newer products hitting the market, such as VMware Inc.'s VMware View and Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenDesktop, also centralize application data and operating system images in the data center infrastructure, but create personalized images served to each user's workstation instead of sharing one image among many. Done correctly, virtualized workstations can cut down on the time IT spends supporting endpoint devices and potentially improve the security and efficiency of endpoint devices.

A recent survey of 480 IT decision makers in North America and Western Europe conducted by the Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found virtual desktops have yet to take over most enterprise data centers, but VDI has gained traction among IT staffs looking to optimize their current PC environments.

Read the rest of this story on virtual desktop infrastructure.

Dot Hill launches channel partner program

Dot Hill Systems, a supplier of entry-level and midrange storage products, this week launched a multitiered channel partner program. The Dot Hill Authorized Partner Program, which offers Authorized, Silver and Gold memberships based on revenues and certification, gives VARs and solution providers access to Dot Hill channel specialists to grow their businesses, as well as a secure partner portal for access to Dot Hill channel program tools. The company also offers deal registration, Web-based and face-to-face training, and self-certification options, among other program benefits.

Additional storage news

Check out last week's storage channel news roundup here.

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