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Cisco extends its leadership in network-based storage virtualization through Intelligent Fabric Applications.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO) have unveiled significant updates to its network-based storage virtualization solutions that will help Cisco and a wide variety of independent software vendors (ISVs) jointly address key customer pain points related to storage provisioning, data migration/replication, backup/ recovery, disk capacity utilization, and storage management costs.

Cisco enables these new solutions, or "Intelligent Fabric Applications," based on open standards such as Fabric Application Interface Standard (FAIS), which has the goal of delivering a common framework for implementing storage applications in storage area networks (SANs). Cisco's commitment to standards will help foster industry-wide interoperability to provide customers more flexibility in choosing the best solution for their business/IT requirements while driving down the total costs associated with managing their data.

In practical terms, Cisco, through the Cisco MDS 9000, provides an open, standards-based platform with the necessary hardware-assist required to help enable high-performance Intelligent Fabric Applications--such as network-based volume management, remote replication, and continuous data protection--from third-party storage software vendors. These Intelligent Fabric Applications also support the Cisco Business Ready Data Center, an end-to-end network architecture that includes the data network, the storage network, data center connectivity solutions, and integrated intelligent services.

The Cisco technologies that power Intelligent Fabric Applications are available through the new Cisco MDS 9000 Storage Services Module and the Cisco MDS 9000 SAN-OS 2.1 software release. The Storage Services Module is a highly specialized 32-port Fibre Channel line card that can operate on any modular Cisco MDS 9000 platform, specifically the Cisco MDS 9500 Series directors and the Cisco MDS 9200 Series fabric switches. The SAN-OS 2.1 is the latest version of the operating system for the Cisco MDS 9000 and largely includes features designed specifically to work with third-party storage software. The Intelligent Fabric Applications they enable are categorized accordingly:

Network-Hosted Storage Applications, defined as storage software that operates directly within the Cisco MDS 9000 via the Storage Services Module. Storage ISVs write to the Storage Services Module using the intelligent storage application program interface that is based on the FAIS, which is currently in consideration as a Fibre Channel industry standard by the Technical Committee T11.5 within the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS).

Today Cisco is announcing that EMC Corporation and VERITAS are expected to be among the first companies to offer network-hosted storage applications built onto the Storage Services Module. For example, EMC will offer a storage virtualization solution, codenamed Storage Router, which includes software specifically built to take advantage of intelligent SAN switches. Cisco and EMC will demonstrate this combined solution at the Cisco booth (Hall 13, Booth C58) at CeBIT 2005, which runs through March 16.

"EMC and Cisco share a common view that, in order to maximize performance and scalability while also protecting customers' existing investments in functionality, storage virtualization is best implemented on the storage network," said Todd Oseth, vice president, Storage Infrastructure Software, EMC Corporation. "This approach results in greater business value while helping our mutual customers take greater advantage of an information lifecycle management strategy."

"IBM and Cisco have been partnering for years in high-performance, scalable storage virtualization technologies, including Cisco Virtual SANs and IBM's SAN Volume Controller," said Bob Mahoney, business line executive, Storage Networking at IBM. "These new offerings will enable even more integration of IBM's business continuity capabilities into the intelligent fabric."

Network-Assisted Storage Applications, which allow customers to deploy third-party appliance-based storage software in Cisco MDS 9000 SANs without compromising the integrity, availability, and performance of the primary data path. Cisco delivers this functionality through the Cisco MDS 9000 SANTap Service, a protocol that operates between the Storage Services Module and a SANTap-enabled storage software appliance. In addition to performance and reliability gains, the SANTap Service also provides other customer benefits such as the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of storage software appliances to meet a specific business/operational need, or to protect its existing investment in a particular storage infrastructure.
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Title Annotation:Cisco Systems Inc.
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 14, 2005
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