Agilent Hits High-Scale SAN Notes

Its test emulates 126 Fibre Channel devices per port. Will the FCIA whine about this one?

October 16, 2003

2 Min Read
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Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced enhancements to its SAN testing platform that the company claims increases its test capacity by 100 times (see Agilent Scales Up SAN Tester).

New features Agilent has added to the 1730B SAN tester are device virtualization, host bus adapter (HBA) behavior emulation, and a capture buffer for failure analysis. The product is able to simulate up to 126 virtual devices behind each physical test port -- for up to 2,000 devices in a 2U-high chassis.

"As SAN fabrics double in size each year, testing them with actual servers and storage devices becomes increasingly challenging and expensive, reaching the scalability limits of traditional test methodologies," Agilent said in its press release today.

Agilent, however, is best advised to downplay the high-scale testing attributes of the 1730B in its marketing -- the Fibre Channel community clearly doesn't appreciate anyone calling attention to the fact that its products aren't capable of supporting high-scale fabrics today.

A luminescent example of this was the reaction of the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) to Spirent Communications' launch last month of its Storage Routing Test (SRT), which is designed to simulate up to 239 Fibre Channel switches in a single fabric. (It turns out that the test was actually developed by Cisco Systems Inc., which then licensed it to Spirent.) (See Spirent: FC Switches Fail to Scale and Source: Cisco Licensed Test to Spirent.)In discussing the new Spirent test, Brian Mason, its product manager for storage solutions, said the company had found "major scaleability concerns" with all of the SAN equipment it tested -- comments that incensed members of the FCIA. In a bizarre step last month, the FCIA issued a statement calling Spirent's a "misguided marketing attempt" and said the vendor had created an "artificial test scenario" that doesn't apparently serve any purpose except to generate sales for Spirent (see FCIA Blasts Spirent Test).

Incidentally, Agilent is a member of the FCIA, while Spirent is not.

We have to wonder: Will the FCIA similarly lambaste Agilent for daring to market a product designed to push Fibre Channel switches to the limit? Is the Agilent test any more or less of an "artificial test scenario" than the Spirent/Cisco test? FCIA representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time. An Agilent spokeswoman said the product manager for the 1730B SAN tester was unavailable for an interview.

In other SAN testing equipment news today, Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) announced its Xgig Analyzer Version 1.5, which now supports full-duplex gigabit links (see Finisar Upgrades SAN Test Tool). Presumably, the FCIA -- which also counts Finisar as a member -- doesn't find fault with this test... yet.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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