HANOVER, GERMANY - Storage products announced at the Cebit trade show here spanned the range from a Cisco Systems storage switch ready for multiterabyte arrays of data, down to a new half-height tape drive from Tandberg Data GmbH.
Cisco presented its Storage Services Module (SSM), a line card for its MDS 9000 SAN (storage area network) platform. Sporting 32 Fibre Channel ports, the card can speed up storage network functions such as backup by taking control of operations from the host server, said company spokesman Dante Malagrino. The card runs SAN-OS 2.1, an updated version of Cisco's operating system for MDS 9000 components, and slots into Cisco's MDS 9500 Series directors or its MDS 9200 Series fabric switches, he said.
Third-party developers can write their applications to open application interfaces such as FAIS (Fabric Application Interface Standard) or SANTap, a protocol used to tap into transactions and commands in the heart of the SAN, according to Malagrino.
Indeed, it's those third-party applications that have prompted the launch, according to Richard Villars, vice president of storage systems research at analyst company IDC. The architecture of the company's existing module, the Storage Volume Manager, works fine for current third-party applications, while the new module's launch is in anticipation of a forthcoming EMC Corp. storage router product, he said.
At Cebit, EMC and other third party storage vendors, including Veritas Software Corp., announced their support for the Cisco platform. EMC demonstrated a storage virtualization application for the platform at the show.
Cisco also announced that other storage software vendors will support the SANTap service on their appliances, among them Alacritus Software Inc., Cloverleaf Communications Inc., FalconStor Software Inc., Kashya Inc., Topio Inc. and Xiotech Corp. Cisco is demonstrating SANTap at the show using appliances from FalconStor, Kashya, Topio and Xiotech, it said.
EMC is also working with Lucent Technologies Inc., which said it is testing a hosted storage service with a client in the U.S. The service is not yet ready for commercial launch, but Lucent plans to make an announcement about it in approximately two months, according to John Meyer, president of the company's worldwide services division.
Lucent has used its own optical networking equipment to link storage systems from EMC Corp. in its Denver, Colorado, hosting facility to the customer's premises. "It's generic storage. We are linking the customer's applications to the storage center and back," Meyer said.
When Lucent began working with EMC on the offer around three months ago, one obstacle they encountered was the way EMC motivates its sales staff: it was difficult getting EMC to change the commission plan for its sales staff so as to encourage them to sell the service, rather than boxes, Meyer said.
That reluctance to rent out systems is understandable, according to IDC's Villars: hosted storage gets talked about every four or five years in the industry, and the last time the concept of storage service providers (SSPs) came up, EMC, like many other companies, "got burnt by the whole SSP thing too," he said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) already offers a hosted service for archiving e-mail, said Villars. There's probably a good opportunity for that in the midmarket, he said, where having someone else worry about regulatory compliance can take a weight off a company's shoulders.