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StorageTek adds 9500 SVA version 2.2 to its product line

On May 9, 2001 StorageTek announced version 2.2 of the 9500 SVA that provides some significant extensions to the SVA product line. The 9500 SVA is StorageTek's cache-centric disk control system based on a virtual architecture that has been extended beyond mainframe attachment capabilities to also attach to open systems (UNIX and Windows NT/2000). StorageTek has continued to add enhancements to the 9500 SVA since its introduction (the SVA is a logical progression of the virtual disk system originally developed as Iceberg and then offered as the RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA) by IBM). The 9500 SVA version 2.2 is an update to the existing 9500 SVA with the following changes:

  • Fabric login support for Fibre Channel attachment
  • PPRC SnapShot support
  • Proxy PPRC for MVS control of open systems remote copy
  • Additional host support for open systems failover and load balancing software
  • Additional support for SVA Administrator management software

Announcement highlights

The StorageTek announcement of version 2.2 of the 9500 SVA adds some capabilities that will prove very valuable to customers. This announcement is not for a new product but enhancements to the existing 9500 SVA. The extensions are in many different areas and each needs to be discussed separately.

Fabric login support

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for Fibre Channel attachment

StorageTek had announced availability of Fibre Channel attachment for the 9500 SVA with version 1.5. That attachment was limited to an arbitrated loop with private loop direct attach (FC-PLDA). This announcement is for the availability of full fabric login support. As Storage Area Networks have matured, the predominant case for attachment of storage systems is now through switched fabric, which requires that the storage system have the capability to do fabric login. StorageTek has now provided that capability in form of a new Fibre Channel interface card (the ICF2) that supports fabric login and can fully participate in the SAN. With the full fabric support, worldwide names and device capabilities are identified in the login process and software that does binding or some type of masking can be utilized.

Evaluator Group comments

Full fabric Fibre Channel attachment to the SVA was needed to be competitive in the marketplace now that Fibre Channel based SANs are being widely deployed. This announcement brings the 9500 SVA to the same competitive level for attachment to a SAN that the major competitors have.

PPRC SnapShot

PPRC is the Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy implementation that StorageTek has done for control unit to control unit replication of data over extended distances. SnapShot is the instantaneous implementation of point-in-time copy for StorageTek that capitalizes on the log-structured file system of the virtual architecture of the SVA. Previously, volumes that were part of a PPRC pair could not have a SnapShot done. With this new capability, SnapShots can be done from the source volume to the target volume on both the primary and secondary (remote) systems. Basically, this is a SnapShot from a PPRC pair to another PPRC pair. Both volume and dataset-level SnapShots are supported. This feature represents significant potential value in that both production and backup data can be kept in synchronization on both systems in a remote copy pair. It will allow a user to create a backup copy to tape from the secondary site without having to do an explicit copy of the data. Some customers have a need for this type of capability and this feature will be extremely valuable in their environments. It will save them significant time in operation. This feature requires the minimum code E-02-02-13 (9500 SVA only).

Evaluator Group comments

Coupled with the performance enhanced PowerPPRC, the ability to do SnapShot of a PPRC pair extends one of the main values that the SVA virtual architecture brings to customers. Those customers running in remote copy environments will use this capability and reap the time rewards of doing zero-time point-in-time copies. This is a great addition to the product by StorageTek.

Proxy PPRC for MVS control of open systems remote copy

Proxy PPRC is remote copy for open systems volumes (LUNs) with the control and management from an MVS host. The remote copy of open systems volumes is being accomplished as if they were MVS volumes. Because the open volumes (LUNs) have reserved areas (for label, VTOC, etc.) so that they can be known to MVS, the ability to have MVS controlled remote copy can be done. Currently AIX, NT/2000, and Solaris are supported with HP-UX support announced for some time in the future. StorageTek plans to deliver an Open Remote Copy function later this year that will not require the attachment of an MVS host for control and management.

Evaluator Group comments

There may be some customer environments where this will be useful but the idea of controlling remote copy of open system LUNs from MVS seems limiting. It requires that an MVS host be part of the configuration and the mechanics of working between two fundamentally different operating environments produces significant challenges. The recovery issues of volumes (LUNs) in this environment might procedurally be a challenge as well.

Additional host support for open systems failover and load balancing software

StorageTek has added support for additional hosts with path failover and load balancing in the SVA Path software product. SVA Path provides path balancing and transparent automatic failover for server systems where it is installed with attachments to the SVA. The SVA Path software will now support Solaris 2.7 or 2.8, HP-UX version 11.0, and Windows NT 4.0 with service pack 6. AIX and Windows 2000 will also be supported later in 2Q2001.

Additional support for SVA administrator management software

SVA Administrator version 3.1 has added more system platforms to its support list. VM/ESA 2.2 is now supported, which means that the capability of running Linux under VM is also supported. Included with the VM/ESA support is capability to do both SnapShots and PPRC. The support of AIX for SVAA has been formally announced as well although StorageTek has made this available since January of 2001. SnapShot for AIX will be available in the third quarter.

Evaluator Group comments

With these announcements, StorageTek has added some valuable features to the 9500 SVA (with some features compatible with previous hardware versions). More important to Evaluator Group is the fact that the product is continuing to be enhanced. With a very competitive marketplace, the competitors are continuing to enhance products to provide value and gain more sales. If there are no enhancements made, that would indicate that the product would be falling behind the competition and not be in the marketplace for very long. Since StorageTek is providing additional capabilities, that demonstrates their commitment to the product and their customers for the SVA. Some of the features announced are absolutely necessary to remain competitive. Others continue to exploit the value that StorageTek brings with their virtual architecture. =================================================
To view another analysis and commentary in this month's review series from the Evaluator Group, go to http://www.searchStorage.com/tip/1,289483,sid5_gci557225,00.html =================================================


This was first published in June 2001

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