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Virtual Instruments looks to make TAPping SANs easier

Virtual Instruments, a spinoff of network monitoring company Finisar, rolled out a new hardware configuration for its Traffic Access Port (TAP) devices, which watch bi-directional Fibre Channel traffic on SAN switch links to diagnose problems.

TAPs are an option with Virtual Instruments’ VirtualWisdom and NetWisdom FC SAN monitoring products, which also involve software components and can be deployed with or without adding TAPs to the SAN. Previously, according to Virtual Instruments VP of marketing Len Rosenthal, users wishing to use TAPs would have to attach two fiber optic splitters to each connection they wanted to monitor. That was time consuming and disruptive if it involved critical connections. It could also result in more “light loss” from the fiber optic connections depending on how many TAPs were in place.

Today, Virtual Instruments introduced a new patch panel hardware form factor for TAPs, which allows multiple fiber optic connections to be connected to one 10-Gigabit panel that can be dropped into a user’s existing core switches. This makes connecting to the TAP once it’s in place simpler and uses patch cables, which Rosenthal said users should also be familiar with.

However, even with the new patch panel there will still be some disruption when retrofitting already-running SANs with TAPs. Rosenthal said Virtual Instruments advises users to TAP new SAN connections as a part of installation. “Life is so much easier if the TAP is in there to begin with,” he said.

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