Continuity Software's risk detection line adds SAN configuration app

Continuity Software's AvailabilityGuard enterprise suite of risk detection products now scans FC switches with the addition of SAN configuration app.

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Continuity Software is extending its risk detection software to storage networks today with the launch of its AvailabilityGuard/SAN application that detects SAN configuration problems in the Fibre Channel fabric.

AvailabilityGuard/SAN is part of Continuity's AvailabilityGuard/Enterprise suite of risk detection applications that launched in May. Other applications in the suite are AvailabilityGuard/Cloud, AvailabilityGuard/Cluster and AvailabilityGuard/DR.

AvailabilityGuard/SAN is designed to detect how changes made to Fibre Channel (FC) SAN switches and host bus adapters (HBAs) will impact other SAN devices.

Continuity Software CEO Gil Hecht compared the new SAN app to the SANscreen change management product developed by Onaro, which was acquired by NetApp in 2008. SANscreen technology is used in NetApp's OnCommand Insight software.

"We're hearing from customers that there are some products on the market that cover the SAN, but they're focused on SAN only and do not have the context to understand what it is they detect," Hecht said. "If they detect a problem, they don't know which database resides on the ports or what application server is on those ports, and they cannot understand the context of the problem. If we detect a problem on the SAN, we know where the problem resides."

AvailabilityGuard/SAN automatically scans all the devices in the SAN fabric through agentless data collection. It includes a "what if" analysis capability to predict the impact of changes before they are made. It points out issues in the product's dashboard that shows what servers and storage are connected to individual switches and HBAs. If a customer clicks on a device with a SAN configuration problem, the software will provide the steps required to solve it.

For example, AvailabilityGuard/SAN may find a switch lacks redundancy and there is a single point of failure, risking downtime or data loss. It can also show if there are enough valid paths from server to storage to meet service-level agreements. It also shows if path speed is below optimal levels, if there is HBA port redundancy, firmware issues or problems with SAN I/O multi-pathing software, or configuration problems such as a database residing on multiple LUNs with different levels of speed or redundancy.

"We validate everything and make sure it's all working based on vendor-published best practices," Hecht said. "We provide visibility from spindle to application server -- everything is monitored and reported on. Until today, we scanned everything except for the switches in the middle."

The software supports FC switches from Brocade Communications and Cisco Systems; HBAs from Cisco, Emulex and QLogic; storage arrays from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM and NetApp; and major clustering and array-based replication applications.

AvailabilityGuard/SAN is available as a standalone product or as part of Continuity's suite. Pricing starts at $20,000 per year.

David Simpson, a senior storage analyst at New York-based 451 Research LLC, said the closest software in the market is Virtual Instruments' VirtualWisdom, but that product focuses on performance analysis rather than risk detection. "This is a horse of a different color," he said. "Nobody else is doing risk detection with a knowledge base of best practices."

He said the SAN product was a logical step to fill out Continuity's suite.

"This plugs a hole in their portfolio," Simpson said. "If you can't go down to the switch level, that leaves a gap. This rounds it out for them. I would imagine sales of the SAN module would go hand-in-hand with the rest of the suite."

Simpson said the key is that Continuity is automating a process that is difficult and time-consuming to do manually. "They're using vendors' standard APIs[application programming interfaces]," he said. "Everything they do, you can do manually, but it would take forever. They're not using anything that you couldn't do with a command-line interface and scripting yourself, but it would take years to do what they do in real time."

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