IP storage company Intransa has launched a certification program to allow software and hardware vendors to test and certify applications with scalable, enterprise 10-gigabit Ethernet (GbE) storage solutions.
In entering Intransa StorAlliance10 GbE Certified IP Storage Program, vendors perform testing in the company’s StorAlliance Certification Lab in San Jose, Calif. Testing includes network, storage and application-tuning modules that allow participants to collect and analyze input/output (I/O) traces, identify performance bottlenecks for elimination, code enhancement suggestions and assistance with any needed retesting.
Intransa Vice President Jeff Whitney said the company had to work its way up to a 10 GbE program.
“We had to do a number of certifications before we could actually launch the product because we discovered that 1 GbE IP SAN [storage area network] performs very differently than 10 GbE does,” Whitney said. “That was kind of a shock to everybody — nobody in the industry was prepared to say that it was going to be different. But because of the way operating systems work, whether Linux or Microsoft or whatever, they were often single-threaded and couldn’t take advantage of the 10 GbE efforts.”
Perhaps because of this, one of the first companies that entered into the program after its announcement was Microsoft, and Intransa has just wrapped up eight weeks of testing at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., facilities.
“They have new versions of their own operating systems coming out that take advantage of 10 GbE, and they needed to be able to test it and make sure it worked,” Whitney said. “10 GbE is the one thing that’s going to make IP SAN the big dog in the SAN world. Obviously, for 20 years, fiber channel has been the dominant player since SAN was first launched, and Microsoft has never been particularly enamored with fiber channel, which is why, from Microsoft’s point of view, [10 GbE is] really powerful. It lets them offer a complete solution through any number of their partners that is much less expensive than professional fiber channel.”
This change has moved IP SAN into the realm of availability for small to midsized businesses.
“In the past, everybody knew fiber channel SANs were the best way to go for storage — they let you manage storage very effectively, let you get the best cost per terabyte out of that storage, made sure that you got maximum use out of it and that you got high availability,” Whitney said. “But only big companies could afford fiber channel. IP SAN really got its first traction in the small to midsized business space back in 2003, and now that 10 GbEs out, it can actually move into a bunch of those markets where, previously, only fiber channel was available.”
Intransa sees its primary market, storage, as not yet fully mature but growing rapidly.
“When you buy a computer system, the computer itself is about one-fifth of the cost of hardware and software — storage makes up the majority of it,” Whitney said. “You only need one set of CPUs, so clearly, you spend a lot more money on storage than you do on the compute power out front, and that’s the one thing that keeps growing over and over again as people add more applications. So, it’s a reflection of economics and the importance of the infrastructure — it’s storage that is actually the costly stuff.”