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More than anything else, storage customers want easier ways to manage their infrastructures. Many of them have Fibre Channel-based storage area networks that might as well be a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs made from wires and cables and devices with all different spices in them.
The saving piece of such storage networks is the switch. It connects the servers to the storage and can sometimes handle huge volumes of data. A motley couple of vendors got together this week, so customers can take even more advantage of the switch in the middle of the SAN. FalconStor Software Inc. cut a deal with Inrange Technologies Corp., so customers can manage their storage networks from the one constant device they own.
Inrange is already at the center of some of the largest SANs on the planet. This spring, Inrange plans to ship its 256-port switch. Each port can process up to 32 devices today, and that number might improve. With FalconStor's IPStor storage-management suite, Inrange will work with any hardware vendor. Other storage-management software comes from hardware vendors that are just starting to be more open.
FalconStor provides capabilities such as storage resource management, backup and recovery, and storage virtualization. Thanks to this partnership with Inrange, customers can access a console at the switch, fool the storage systems and the servers into thinking they still have cumbersome direct connections, and distribute storage capacity from a pool based on application needs.
IPStor software is priced at around $10,000 per server, and it's available now for Inrange switches from $2,500 to $3,000 per port, depending on the configuration.
Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Duplessie thinks this is actually a marriage between the most innovative storage-management software and the largest customers. He says IPStor has played only in the small- to medium-sized business space, while Inrange only plays at the highest end. "Virtualization is not just for breakfast anymore," Duplessie says. "A big honkin' iron player will process the software."