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SNW Preview: What's hot?

Here are some of the key announcements, sessions and people to look out for at SNW in Phoenix this week.

PHOENIX -- Storage Networking World (SNW) is becoming somewhat of a low-key affair as far as major news is concerned, as the big players save their important announcements for their own user shows. EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Brocade Communications Systems Inc., among others, have opted to announce major upgrades at their own gigs this year.

Still, there's plenty to check out -- not least of all the number of iSCSI demos happening just about everywhere you turn. Support all around for Microsoft Corp.'s recently announced 2.0 iSCSI software initiator will be big, and look out for an iSCSI security appliance, EMC and FalconStor Software iSCSI news, SMI-S support for IP SANs and iSCSI chip acceleration technologies. For the lowdown on all the iSCSI news, click here.

And while previous shows have generated some buzz around 4 Gbps Fibre Channel ( FC), this one marks the formal entrance of this technology. At this show, you will see everything from 4 Gbps iSCSI to FC bridges, host bus adapters, controllers, switches and arrays working together. StorageTek Corp. will announce its 4 Gbps FLX380 storage system and reseller agreement with Brocade for its 4100 4 Gbps switch. The FLX380 includes dual-active RAID controllers, provides eight 4 Gbps host connections and up to 224 FC or SATA disk drives.

As with the move from 1 Gbps to 2 Gbps FC, vendors plan to keep pricing the same or less for 4 Gbps as 2 Gbps. It should all be backwards compatible, too.

People worth seeing include: John Thompson, CEO of Symantec Corp. for some insight into his plans regarding integration with Veritas; Ann Livermore, executive vice president in the technology solutions group at HP, who will hopefully offer some direction on HP's storage strategy; John Kelley, CEO of McData Corp., for an explanation of his company's new tiered switching approach to managing SANs; and Jeff Nick, chief technology officer of EMC, formerly a 24-year veteran of IBM and an IBM fellow.

Watch out for:

Cisco Systems Inc. will announce a new software capability for its MDS 9000 series of Directors and switches, and word has it it's something to do with routing. (Seriously) Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has what promises to be some interesting news around its HiCommand storage management software regarding a virtualization capability. To date, HDS has only offered virtualization through its TagmaStore array, a super high-end system costing thousands and thousands of dollars. This announcement could be a virtualization offering for the folks in the cheaper seats.

MaXXan Systems Inc. will preview its MXV250 intelligent SAN switch for midrange users. But what makes it a midrange switch, exactly, we don't know yet. It might be worth a look.

Microsoft Corp. will make a big song and dance about the renaming of its Data Protection Server disk-based backup product, now called Data Protection Manager for System Center with additional support for continuous data protection ( CDP). However, it still isn't shipping a product. Patient users will have to wait until the next SNW for that.

On the chip front, SiliconStor Inc., a fabless active-active multiplexer firm, has come up with a novel way for storage manufacturers to exploit SATA. Its AA MUX emulates FC dual ports and SAS performance so that inexpensive, larger capacity SATA drives can be dropped into enterprise arrays. Other companies are already doing this, which suggests more SATA-based systems coming soon.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is finally unveiling a significant upgrade to its 6920 data services controller, otherwise known as the Pirus box. This is Sun's long-promised third-party storage virtualization engine, and it can finally do just that.

The latest version includes several new features, including storage pool manager, which can virtualize the HP EVA 3000 series, EMC's Clariion CX400 and CX700 systems (with others soon to follow), Sun's 9000 series, 3000 series, 6130 (rebranded Engenio system) and the 6120 and 6320.

Other features include data replicator for IP-based data replication over long distances; a data mirror capability for local block-by-block duplication to different media nondisruptively, as well as support for up to 1,024 snapshots (providing CDP-like functionality). Sun is also working on a combo card for the 6920 expected later in the year that will provide IP/Ethernet, iSCSI and FC connectivity.

Stay tuned for the latest and greatest from SNW, right here.

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