The virtualization agents are pieces of software that reside on the hosts, in SAN switches, and in host bus adapters (HBAs). The agents must be in all three places for Compaq's virtualization to take place. Although Compaq's plan naturally anticipates Compaq servers, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has signed up to support VersaStor, too.
Enter Troika Networks with a new type of HBA it calls a controller that plugs into the server and enables server clustering on one end, while feeding into the VersaStor SAN appliance on the other. Troika is adding Compaqs VersaStor agent into the firmware of its controller so that all the servers within a Troika cluster can talk to the VersaStor appliance. QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) is doing the same with its HBAs, and Sorensen expects Emulex Corp. (Nasdaq: EMLX) to announce its support for the agent any day now.
Compaqs next step is to convince the SAN switch vendors, mainly Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), to support the agent. McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDT), the number two player behind Brocade, has already signed up. The goal is to enable the VersaStor appliance to talk to the storage devices via the SAN switch.
All the major Fibre Channel switch makers are looking at it, Sorensen claims, although he isnt permitted to name them yet.
The upshot is: Dont hold your breath. There are still several pieces that need to be put in place for this strategy to work. For one, the storage devices themselves must also support the agent. The first VersaStor-based products were originally planned for the end of this year but are now not expected to ship until the second quarter