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Testing Players Go SAN Blasting

As SANs get bigger and more complex, heftier test equipment is needed to build and maintain them. And recent releases of Fibre Channel SAN testers from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) and Spirent Communications are cases in point.

Both vendors make big router testers, and even though they've offered SAN test kit in the past, they say customers -- meaning equipment makers as well as enterprise and carrier users of SANs -- need more horsepower and connection analysis.

Router tester vendors are well suited to the task for several reasons. First, their hardware and software are capable of simulating and analyzing large interconnected, multiprotocol networks. In contrast, many Fibre Channel testers on the market today comprise software that runs on PC cards. These smaller fry aren't up to handling the massive scaleability suppliers are looking for, particularly in metro area networks, where carriers increasingly offer SAN services to multiple enterprises.

Router testers also are geared to simulating and analyzing many connections, such as those in big IP-based networks with lots of routers. SANs are getting more like these networks, sources say, and it's imperative to be able to factor many links into the test pool.

Agilent's 1730B SAN Tester emulates up to 2,000 devices in a Fibre Channel SAN, although it doesn't distinguish among switches, servers, or other particular types of gear, according to Jean-Manuel Dassonville, Agilent's SAN tester product manager.

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