CNT Brings SAN Router to AS/400

With the recent release of its UltraNet Open Systems Router (OSR), Computer Network Technology (CNT, Minneapolis) claims it is now the first company to provide the capability for building a Storage Area Network (SAN) in an AS/400 environment.“We developed this to support lowering the cost of storage for that community, because the AS/400 does not allow sharing of storage with tape drives,” says Wade Hoffman, senior product manager for open systems storage networking at CNT.

Prior to the release of its UltraNet Open Systems Router, building a SAN in an AS/400 environment was almost impossible, says Computer Network Technology.
OSR is a networking device which allows shared storage access on AS/400 servers. According to Hoffman, before now SAN implementation has been difficult, if not impossible, on AS/400 because the platform does not have the capability to handle shared storage devices.

“Literally, AS/400 cannot share a tape drive unless you have a device like this, or you have resources—human resources—dedicated to unhooking and re-connecting cable for tape devices,” he says.

SANs provide an alternative for businesses using dedicated AS/400 server-to-storage connections. A SAN provides a lower-cost storage management solution by consolidating storage resources and eliminating the need for such dedicated connections. By providing multiple AS/400 servers with access to Magstar and other AS/400-compatible tape subsystems, OSR creates a pool of storage resources, which can be shared. This increases access to storage devices, reduces storage administration management staff and costs, and decreases the cost of dedicated storage-to-server connections. In addition, built-in intelligence in OSR makes it possible for multiple servers to make numerous requests to the tape drive without interrupting active jobs.

Hoffman expects companies will want to take advantage of SAN-enabling products such as OSR, because of the potential cost savings that can result from implementing a storage network.

“If you have a campus or even just a building, everything has to be colocated,” he says. “The cost savings alone of being able to share those expensive storage systems—the savings can be great just in terms of manpower, and then you add to that the cost of the hardware and the connection devices.”

Hoffman says CNT’s customers are used to the “bullet-proof nature” of IBM products, and as a result security and stability were high priorities in developing OSR. Beyond the issue of reliability, customers’ primary demands were multiplatform compatibility and extendibility over a significant distance, according to Hoffman. The product supports OS/400, Unix, NT and Linux, among others, and can extend a SCSI signal over Fibre Channel up to 10 km.

“We didn’t add a lot of glittery bells and whistles, we just went straight to our customers to fulfill what they said they needed,” he explains.

UltraNet Open Systems Router is available immediately. CNT will release two configurations of the product, SCSI-only and FC to SCSI. OSR contains embedded software that manages the functions of the Open Systems Router, and it supports Emulex, Jaycor, Qlogic and HP Fibre Channel host bus adapters. CNT will offer Web-based technology support and 24-hour phone support options.

Related Editorial:

  • Fibre Channel Support for SANs Due in 2000

    Related Information:

  • Computer Network Technology (new window)
  • Open Systems Router Overview (new window)
  • Must Read Articles