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NetApp, McData simplify SAN management

NetApp will integrate McData's SANavigator software into its DataFabric Manager software giving users a single window through which to manage filers and SAN devices.

Addressing concerns about rising management costs and complexity, McData Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. have announced a strategic partnership to help users manage their NetApp filers and SAN devices using one piece of software.

The deal extends a partnership the two firms initiated a year ago to make their products work better together. The new contract takes this interoperability a step further as McData will integrate its SANavigator network management software with NetApp's DataFabric Manager software. Network Appliance will sell the integrated product through its channels under the NetApp DataFabric Manager brand name. It will be available to users at the end of the year.

Through this collaboration the companies hope to offer users a way to manage their filers and SAN devices -- IP and Fibre Channel -- from a single window instead of using multiple management tools.

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Users spoke with seemed pleased the vendors are heading in this direction. "Different management tools speak different languages and often they have overlapping functions which is a waste of time," said Trevor Gardner, IT operations director at Draka USA, the largest cable manufacturer nationwide.

Joe Ambrosino, operations manager at Sovereign Bank agrees that a "single pain of glass" approach to managing storage would be nice. He has just moved to a disk-based backup product from Sepaton Inc., and picked this product because it already interoperates with his Veritas Netbackup management software. "We bought Sepaton because it doesn't try to trick the Veritas software in any shape or form." He said finding storage management tools that work cleanly with each other instead of adding complexity is tough.

NetApp's DataFabric Manager integrated with SANavigator will offer all the features of SANavigator except provisioning, a spokeswoman for McData said. This will be available in a future version she said.

McData acquired SANavigator Inc. for $29.75 million in cash in September, 2001. The software gave the company the ability to manage other vendors' switches besides its own. It gives McData a significant advantage over its rival Brocade Communications Systems Inc. whose Fabric OS management software manages Brocade switches only.

"Storage networking is not about SAN versus NAS [NetApp's old stance on storage]; or McData switches versus Brocade, it's about integrating SAN and NAS solutions into a single networked storage infrastructure," said Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group.

NetApp and Veritas

This isn't the first time NetApp has beefed up its management capabilities. The company stepped up a partnership with Veritas Software Corp. last month which has resulted in a new version of Veritas' NetBackup that supports snapshot technology for point-in-time copies on NetApp's NAS filers.

With the new NetBackup users no longer have to use NetApp's proprietary tools to manually create snapshots. Veritas said that with NetBackup 5.1 and NetBackup 5.1 Advanced Client, the process of creating snapshots on NetApp filers is now automated.

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