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Cisco upgrades San management software

Cisco Systems has upgraded the storage management software on its multiprotocol storage switches to include five new networking features, such as routing between remote storage-area networks (San) and Ficon connectivity for mainframes.

Its switches can now perform what it called intervirtual San routing, which allows servers in different logical Sans to share common storage resources, such as disc arrays and tape libraries. 

On top of routing between Sans, the switches will be able to use the Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) protocol, which will allow long-distance data replication to remote Sans over Ethernet for disaster recovery. 

IDC analyst Rick Villars said the latest features on Cisco's MDS 9000 family of directors and switches are significant because they are embedded in the software, instead of requiring separate processor-like products from other switch manufacturers. 

Rajeev Bhardwaj, product manager for the Cisco MDS 9000, said the company also placed quality-of-service controls in its switches to allow Sans to prioritise traffic based on specific requirements, such as putting Oracle database traffic ahead of backup traffic. 

While quality-of-service policies are starting to take hold in the storage market, those services will require co-operation among host bus adapter or Fibre Channel adapter suppliers to work properly, Villars said. 

"Partnerships will be important to that," he added. 

Cisco's new San-OS 1.3 software also includes an enhanced, server-based version of the company's Fabric Manager, the embedded, graphical network management tool for the entire Cisco MDS 9000 line. Cisco Fabric Manager Server offers three significant upgrades: centralised management of multiple physical fabrics; continuous discovery, health and event monitoring; and historical performance monitoring with the ability to analyse statistics for items such as interswitch links. 

Cisco also added support for several storage standards, including the Common Information Model interface - which is based on the Storage Management Interface Specification - and the Internet Storage Name Service protocol, or iSNS, which automates the discovery, management and configuration of iSCSI devices. 

The company said the upgrades also mean its San switch is the first to support intermixing of open systems protocols on the same switch through virtual or logical Sans. The protocols include Fibre Channel, iSCSI, FCIP and Ficon with Ficon control-unit port management. 

The latest features will be available within 60 days on Cisco's San-OS 1.3 software, which can be downloaded through partners such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Hitachi Data Systems.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld


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