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SNW: Day Two

ORLANDO, Fla. After a rash of announcements Monday, the second day of Storage Networking World was a more subdued affair. Some companies even tried to sneak out the same press release twice, with a slightly different headline the second time around (Nice try, McData Corp!).

What buzz there was today, Tuesday, largely focused on virtualization. Here are the key announcements:

  • Despite its pending merger with Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP) is moving forward with its StorageApps product development (see HP Acquires StorageApps). Within a month of closing the acquisition, it has created a dumbed-down version of StorageApps’ virtualization software that will run on an HP server, as an entry-level product. The box, codenamed Sava 1.0, will be generally available early 2002 for under $100,000. The high-end StorageApps appliance is still available with all the trimmings for $350,000.

    But should the merger with Compaq go ahead, things might get a little confusing for the two companies on the virtualization front. Both have separate, well-defined strategies and products. Nevertheless, “We are continuing to treat them as a competitor today,” said Brice Clark, director of strategy for the network infrastructure group at HP, who promptly launched into an entertaining account of some of the pitfalls of Compaq’s virtualization technology.

  • NuView, the second startup of the same name by serial entrepreneur Rahul Mehta, has received important endorsements from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). NuView "the first" was acquired by HP in 1997. Mehta is hoping for the same luck with NuView part deux, which today announced the availability of StorageX – an enterprise-level storage virtualization software product for Windows environments. The company has also formed a technology alliance with EMC under which it will develop StorageX for Symmetrix and Celerra. This is probably worth watching, as it could become an important part of EMC’s virtualization strategy going forward.
  • StorageTek (NYSE: STK) is another one pushing the virtualization message. The difference is that it's been doing this for the past five years, it says, without much recognition. “We’ve just done a terrible job executing,” a company official admitted to Byte and Switch. This may be a thing of the past, as the new CEO, Pat Martin, is making it his mission in life to drive the company’s message out into the marketplace.

    StorageTek offers the SN6000 virtualization appliance, which currently provides bolt-on tape-level virtualization for Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Seagate Technology Inc., and HP storage kit. By Q2 2002 it will offer virtualization of its own “disk” storage and eventually plans to virtualize EMC and HDS disk storage as well, although there’s no roadmap for this yet. Stay tuned, the company said. [I shall await the news with bated breath -- ed.]

  • Tape library manufacturer Spectra Logic Inc. announced the availability of its TAOS (Tape Appliance Operating System), a piece of software that works with its tape libraries (see Spectra Logic Opens Library). Net managers can use devices equipped with this code to perform backups over gigabit Ethernet without having to first install a dedicated backup server to provide IP network connectivity (something which can cause bottleneck problems, according to analysts).
  • Lastly, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), in an effort to address the lack of expertise in the storage networking market, announced a partnership with training company, Infinity I/O, to provide a vendor-independent certification program for individuals working in this industry (see SNIA Launches FC SAN Program). The first test is for a Fibre Channel SAN certification, chosen because of its predominance in the market today. Future tests will include virtualization (no surprises there), networked attached storage, IP storage, data protection, and high availability. Levels one and two of the tests have been undertaken by 400 beta testers so far.

    One candidate we spoke to was unconvinced. “Neither of the tests would prompt me to hire an engineer,” said Gene Chesser, technical director of enterprise storage at Compaq. “They need higher levels." SNIA officials said they are working on these.

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