Legato Lays Out SAN Roadmap

<P>Moving to create a de facto standard in SAN management, Legato Systems Inc. (<A HREF="http://www.legato.com/">www.legato.com</A>) charted a roadmap for what it calls the &quot;Information Utility&quot; and established new partnerships with Data General Corp. (<A HREF="http://www.dg.com/">www.dg.com</A>) and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (<A HREF="http://www.brocade.com/">www.brocade.com</A>).</P>

Moving to create a de facto standard in SAN management, Legato Systems Inc. (www.legato.com) charted a roadmap for what it calls the "Information Utility" and established new partnerships with Data General Corp. (www.dg.com) and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (www.brocade.com).

These moves coincided with another major storage area network development, the formation of a 12-member FibreAlliance aimed at developing and implementing common methods for managing heterogeneous Fibre Channel-based SANs.

Legato CEO Lou Cole says the company’s Information Utility vision is to provide storage in a manner analogous to electric and telephone systems -- seamless, uninterrupted access to services managed in a way transparent to users. The utility analogy is not unique. Compaq Computer Corp. had floated the idea in conjunction with its Enterprise Network Storage Architecture.

Legato, which sells its enterprise storage management software under the names NetWorker, BusinessSuite, SmartMedia and GEMS, laid out three steps to its roadmap for establishing the Information Utility. The first step includes the current capabilities of primitive SANs, such as LAN-free backup of database and application servers using NetWorker and sharing of tape drives across heterogeneous environments using SmartMedia.

The second step relies heavily on Legato’s late January acquisition of Intelliguard Software and its Celestra architecture. The roadmap calls for the use of Celestra software as SANs mature and customers deploy more intelligent storage devices. Key functions in the second step are serverless backup, SAN-based replication and mirroring and transparent Hierarchical Storage Management.

The final step involves extending the self-healing storage capabilities of Legato GEMS to the management of the SAN infrastructure, providing a policy-managed framework for administering the SAN.

The partnerships with Data General, for its Clariion disk arrays for the open systems market, and Brocade, for its Fibre Channel switches, build on Legato’s previously announced relationships with 3Com Corp., MTI Technology Corp. (www.mti.com), Storage Technology Corp. (www.storagetek.com) and Box Hill Systems Corp. (www.boxhill.com). Industry vendors lining up behind Legato’s roadmap ranged from Compaq to ATL Products Inc. (www.atlp.com) to Exabyte Corp. (www.exabyte.com).

Mark Ferelli, director of industry analysis at Strategic Research Corp. (www.sresearch.com), a market analysis firm focusing on SANs, says Legato’s moves are similar to what occurred with SCSI standards and standards for several different interfaces. "They have a vision that a number of companies have shared. They’re going to try to create a de facto standard," Ferelli says. He doesn’t see much competition for standards in the SAN management software space. "I don’t know that we’ve got a lot of head-to-head battles in the foreseeable future."

Ferelli says the Legato roadmap hits on the elements people are looking for with SAN: "Seamless access to data ... that unloads itself from the application so the application can run faster and better and have much more uptime."

The FibreAlliance was formed to draft engineering specifications that common methods for managing heterogeneous SANs can be based on. The FibreAlliance, sponsored by enterprise storage vendor EMC Corp., will submit the specification this spring to independent standards bodies for consideration as an industrywide standard.

The alliance consists of hub, switch, host bus adapter, router, server and management software vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Legato, Veritas Software Corp. and McData Corp. Alliance members say the initiative will improve the integration and functionality of their products.