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Virtual Instruments delivers larger VirtualWisdom SAN monitoring probe

Virtual Instruments' biggest SAN monitoring probe supports 48 Fibre Channel ports in one box.

Virtual Instruments this week rolled out its largest Fibre Channel SAN probe device.

The VirtualWisdom SAN Performance Probe FC8-HD48 is a 48-port SAN monitoring tool that allows Fibre Channel (FC) storage administrators to troubleshoot performance problems between switches and storage arrays. The appliance is the densest model of three VirtualWisdom SAN Performance Probe products.

The FC8-HD48 is designed for high-end SAN arrays, such as EMC Symmetrix VMAX, Hewlett-Packard 3PAR StoreServ and the Hitachi Data Systems Virtual Storage Platform.

The other models in the family are the 16-port FC8-HD for midrange SANs and the eight-port FC8 for entry-level deployments.

The SAN Performance Probe connects to a Windows-based server on the back end and Virtual Instruments' SANInsight Traffic Access Point (TAP) on the front end. The TAP device, which acts like a signal splitter, sits between the FC switches and storage arrays. The probe gets real-time SAN monitoring data from the FC frame headers. The headers contain metadata, including source destination, routing, reads and writes, and data latency from the I/O traffic.

The new VirtualWisdom SAN Probe device uses 75% less rack space for the same monitoring footprint than the smaller models, and Virtual Instruments claims it reduces cost by 50% per monitored port over the FC8. However, the vendor has not released pricing for the probes. Virtual Instruments is taking orders now and the FC8-HD48 is expected to be generally available by the end of the year.

"This really rounds out our product family," John Gentry, Virtual Instruments' vice president of marketing, said of the FC8-HD48. "We are monitoring more of the infrastructure at a lower cost per monitoring link without taking up more space in the data center."

The probe gives administrators comprehensive reports on more than 200 metrics that measure the health, utilization and I/O performance of the SAN.

Barry Cooks, Virtual Instruments' vice president of engineering, said the SAN Probe monitors 1 million FC frames per second per port without data loss. That means it can monitor 48 million frames per second if all ports are connected.

Henry Baltazar, a senior analyst for infrastructure and operations professionals at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said Virtual Instruments' lower cost per port will benefit companies managing larger SANs.

"To buy the big box, you pay more. But the price per port that is being managed actually gets lower even though it's a more expensive box," he said.

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