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Microsoft, McData form SAN solution centers

Storage provider McData Corp., and Microsoft Corp. announced this week that they will open a solution center designed to let customers test higher data availability storage area networks (SANs) for the Windows 2000 operating system.

McData's announcement comes on the heals of IBM's recent announcement that 50 of its Business Partner Storage Area Network (SAN) Solution Centers would be open for e-business. IBM announced two months ago that this initiative was part of its $400 million effort to harness the service end of storage market. The solution centers, the first of more than 70 centers planned in 20 countries around the world, are designed to help customers deploy SAN solutions by providing a testing facility where customers can use real data to realize the benefits of linking storage products into networks. The centers also offer other SAN services that include testing, designing, education and training.

Both IBM and McData's announcements reflect a growing trend toward the formation of hardware and software solutions or testing centers within the storage industry.

Richard Lyford, senior product manager, McData, said that its solution center is much more focused than IBM's and centers around finding working solutions for Windows products.

"Customers will be able to deploy both Windows 2000 and SANs, creating a data infrastructure that will be robust and scalable enough to meet the demands of the most critical enterprise applications," said Lyford.

"The point is to insure that the products work together," said Lyford. "Until you get them all in the room singing, you don't know how they sound."

Lyford says the solution center benefits the administrator who has an e-mail system that keeps going down, for example. The administrator can implement and recreate his system under real working conditions and troubleshoot the problem, without having to bring down his company's entire working system.

"We can change it, test it and provide customer results," said Lyford.

The center is scheduled to open this month at both the Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) facility in Bellevue, Wash., and McData's System Integration Lab in Broomfield, Colo.

At each facility, customers can test highly available SANs with Microsoft and McData products, evaluating the capability of various configurations to meet their application platform requirements and performance goals. According to Lyford, this approach allows for a level of service that will expedite how quickly a business, whether a dot-com or traditional brick-and-mortar, can implement a SAN and ensure compatibility with Microsoft applications.

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