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Onaro Ships Change Manager

Formerly secretive startup Onaro Inc. is clamoring for attention now that it's shipped its first product (see Onaro Intros SANscreen). It may not have to try too hard.

Onaro's software, called SANscreen, is getting some good reviews from analysts and at least one customer for being able to predict the effects of changes made to SAN and NAS gear. SANscreen, Onaro claims, can ensure changes don't cause technical problems or violate in-house policies.

If a switch is added, for instance, SANscreen checks for a redundant path, one that doesn't interfere with other paths, in case of failure. It can ensure performance isn't trashed when an array is added, or that a user doesn't violate security by getting access to an off-limits drive. And it keeps track of changes made, reporting that all the steps in the process took place in the right order.

SANscreen does all this by automatically discovering SAN devices, including storage arrays, hosts, and switches on Fibre Channel and iSCSI networks. It uses the info it finds to create a basic model of the network, to which it applies specially devised algorithms to predict the effects of real or planned changes. The software runs on a Windows server, requires no software elsewhere in the network, and does its discovery out of band, or off that portion of the network that handles live data. A starter system can cost less than $50,000, the vendor claims.

At least one customer says SANscreen solved a knotty problem. "We used to spend a lot of time fire fighting," says Robert Shinn, a principal at State Street Global Advisors, which offers investment services. Dealing with the aftereffects of adding users, storage, and devices to the firm's SAN of over 1,000 ports was so complicated that it kept some of the company's 20-odd SAN administrators too busy to do much else.

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