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Maranti puts more management functions in the switch fabric

Maranti Networks says that its latest intelligent switch can save users money and simplify heterogeneous storage management.

Aiming to make managing heterogeneous storage environments easier, San Jose, Calif.-based storage vendor Maranti Networks Inc. has launched its latest line of intelligent storage switches. The Maranti CoreStor products combine hardware and software to enable storage services and management capabilities at the switch level.

The hardware is available in two versions: the CoreStor 2000 has a 16-port configuration, and the CoreStor 3000 is a director-class switch that can be configured with eight to 128 ports. Both are multi-protocol offerings, available in either Fibre Channel or Gigabit Ethernet.

Across installed networks, both products are being sold on a per-instance basis, as opposed to a per-terabyte basis. This means that, if you need 10 mirrors or 10 replicates, you pay for that many, regardless of how much physical storage you use.

According to Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., this is being done in an effort "to keep port pricing competitive with what's out there today," especially considering the competition the company faces in the switch market.

On the software side, the product enables storage services -- such as mirroring, replication, provisioning and virtualization -- to be performed at every port, so users can run these tasks across disk arrays from multiple storage vendors. Because the switches run their own applications, they streamline storage networks by performing these services from one location.

The company is pushing the CoreStor suite even for those shops that don't want to use the switches to perform all of the intelligent storage services Maranti offers -- the company says they are completely interoperable with third-party hardware and software products.

Similarly, Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner at the Data Mobility Group Inc., Nashua, N.H., said interoperability is one of the CoreStor platform's greatest strengths.

"Its appeal is that data can be replicated across different vendors' disk arrays easier within the Maranti product," she said, "without requiring additional software, such as Veritas, or solutions like DataCore or FalconStor. All replication can be managed from one central location."

John Clarke, a beta user of Maranti CoreStor 2000, agreed. While he's currently using Hitachi TrueCopy for replication, he said he could improve the total cost of ownership for replication by using Maranti. Clarke, a storage architect for a large online publisher in the Midwest, also sees CoreStor as a "key enabler of virtualization."

Clarke uses CoreStor with ATA disks for a disk-to-disk backup solution, as well as for disaster recovery purposes in a testing environment. He hopes to use CoreStor with ATA disks to replace the majority of the petabyte of tape he currently has on the floor of his data center. In his testing, he's used the product for cross-site replication between his two data centers. Clarke, who manages300 terabytes (TB) of storage, performs incremental backups every night for 2,500 servers, or about 12 TB.

Clarke had been looking for ways to lower operating costs in his environment, especially since he expects the amount of data he manages to double next year. Equally important was the need to eliminate the creation of proprietary solutions, like the two or three he currently has in place.

"Any more than that," Clarke says, "and it just gets unmanageable."

Nancy Marrone-Hurley, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc., shared similarly positive results from her analysis and called the CoreStor product one of "the most intelligent platforms out there."

She agreed that it can help to lower the total cost of ownership because, while other intelligent switches perform some of the same functions as CoreStor, Maranti's switches "can do them all [by putting] intelligence on every port, and its interoperability lets you work with the infrastructure you already have in your environment."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Megan Loncto, Associate Site Editor

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