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Veritas, Cisco unveil switch software

Aiming to make storage networks cheaper and easier to run, Veritas Software and Cisco Systems have teamed to put storage management software on switches.

Aiming to make storage networks cheaper and easier to run, Veritas Software and Cisco Systems have teamed to put storage management software on switches.

The two companies said on Monday that Veritas' Storage Foundation for Networks software is available for Cisco's MDS 9000 series of switches. The software does things such as allow replication of data from one storage device to another and allocate additional storage for an application.

IBM has also developed storage management software for Cisco switches. But that product--due in December--initially is designed to work only with IBM storage devices. IBM expects it to support other hardware systems sometime in the first half of next year.

Veritas said its own switch-based product currently works with storage devices from multiple companies. "We're hardware agnostic," said Jose Iglesias, vice president of product marketing for Veritas. "We think that it's a big advantage."

A switch is a device that can connect multiple servers to multiple devices that store data. Switches are key parts of storage area networks, which are special networks that link computers to storage devices for more efficient use and easier management of storage resources.

In the past, storage management software from Veritas has run on server computers that access SANs. But putting the software on switches within SANs has a number of advantages, Iglesias said. Functions typically built into high-end storage arrays can be carried out using less-expensive, lower-end devices. One such function is data "mirroring," in which all the information on one disk array can be replicated automatically onto another.

Switch-based software also makes expanding the capacity required by an application easier, Iglesias said. In the past, such an expansion--for the Exchange messaging program, for instance--may have required tinkering with storage management software residing on two different servers. But with the software on the switch, an employee can make the change using a single console.

Software has become a major focus in the storage industry, as companies seek to automate storage management tasks. Cisco recently announced an upgrade to the operating system for its MDS 9000 switches, and said the new software is designed to help customers build more-secure SANs that can be managed better. Veritas also is working on switch-based storage software with Cisco competitor Brocade Communications Systems.