CommVault, Legato Keep Eye on NAS

It must behard to be a storage management vendor. The storage industry is rife with holywars: Fibre Channel vs. Gigabit Ethernet, SAN vs. NAS, and the on goingstruggle for operating system dominance. Most vendors intend to follow themarket and support all profitable standards, but choosing which to pursuepresents challenges.

Two storagemanagement vendors, Legato Systems and CommVault Systems, extended NAS supportin their new products.

Legatodecided to focus on the NAS end of the storage market with its 6.0 release ofNetworker, a storage management product announced in September at Networld +Interop in Atlanta. Scott McIntyre, vice president of product management atLegato, believes the NAS market is growing, particularly for NT users. “Thereseems to be a NAS device popping up every week,” he says.

Thetrendiest new feature in 6.0 is expanded support for the Network DataManagement Protocol (NDMP). NDMP is a standard for data backup in NASenvironments. Network Appliance and EMC are leading storage vendors thatsupport NDMP. Network Appliance uses NDMP on all of their NAS devices,including its flagship 840 filer; EMC has implemented NDMP on its Celestra NASappliance.

Comparedwith SANs -- which traditionally integrate storage, backup devices, and serverson a dedicated network -- NAS devices are relative orphans, standing alone inthe IP topology with little direct relationship to back-up devices.

NDMP is anopen standard that it was developed by Network Appliance and IntelliguardSoftware, which was purchased by Legato. McIntyre says NDMP is standard acrossthe NAS market.

CommVaultspecifically targeted the high-end filer NAS devices from Network Appliance forsupport in its latest data protection product: Galaxy Enterprise 2000. TheNetApp 840 filer is a high-end NAS appliance that CommVault has targeted forits product.

Chris VanWagoner, director of product marketing at CommVault, says his company's goal isto pursue the latest in storage technology to help users. “You have to supportthe next generation of hardware,” he says.

NetworkAppliance’s Direct Access File System (DAFS) may indicate the future directionof NAS devices. DAFS is designed to accelerate the movement of data from thenetwork to physical blocks, and vice versa. “The industry is pushing more andmore intelligence down to the spindle,” Van Wagoner says. Both CommVault andLegato have introduced functionality to support DAFS on NAS devices.

Likeprevious versions of Networker, 6.0 offers backup and restore functionality forusers of SAN, NAS, and traditional storage systems. However, expanded supportof NDMP extends the ability for administrators to automate backups fromstandalone NAS devices to tape libraries.

Legato alsoimplemented features targeted to Windows NT/2000 users. Networker 6.0 supportsMicrosoft’s Clustering services to ensure data protection in the case offailover. If the primary storage server fails, Networker can automaticallydelegate backup responsibility to another machine.

McIntyresays Networker is ideal for distributed computing environments, like manyWindows NT/2000 networks. The software's distributed architecture allowsfunctions to be delegated across the network. Additionally, many storagemanagement systems were developed for monolithic environments where a singledatabase server is the locus of the network, concentrating back up and restoreon the central server. Networker was designed with distributed environments inmind.

Networkerconsists of two pieces of software: a central server node and client nodes oragents for moving data from servers to other storage. The central server nodehandles scheduling and delegation for back-up duties. It also provides a viewof the network’s storage devices for management purposes.

Van Wagonersays CommVault’s technology was initially developed at AT&T for internaldeployment at the company’s data centers. But when CommVault decided to take astab at the NT world, the company rebuilt their product from the ground up toaddress the needs of distributed environments. “The architecture is verydistributed across the site, across the WAN,” he says.

GalaxyEnterprise offers a management framework for servers and storage devices, withagents that reside on each client machine. Van Wagoner says CommVault took adrill-down approach in designing the interface. “With one view, we can look atany subsystem,” he says.

"Webelieve very strongly in the NAS concept,” Van Wagoner says. He believes NASappliances fit better into the NT world of distributed boxes across thenetwork, handling storage duties for multiple machines. Windows administratorsare also more comfortable with the NAS concept, he says: “They look at thedevice and say, ‘It’s just a share.’”

McIntyreagrees, citing the ability to quickly ramp up storage with NAS. Internetinfrastructures commonly need to add large amounts of storage quickly,especially in fast-growing companies.

Storageservice providers (SSPs) also need fast-scaling storage, and McIntyre says thatwhether administrators are in SSPs or corporate IT departments, they willprosper if they regard their work as a service. “We believe the enterprise ismoving to the SSP model,” he says, citing some organizations where departmentshave the option of using the corporate infrastructure or an SSP. In today’sstorage world, any administrator could soon face the same challenges as an SSPadministrator

Network Appliance Inc.,Sunnyvale, Calif.,
Legato Systems Inc., Mountain View, Calif.,
CommVault Systems Inc., Oceanport, N.J., www