Virtual instruments has launched a service aimed at enterprises concerned about the slow running of their networks. The company has started SOS-4-SANs for organisations experiencing performance difficulties with the SANs, exploiting the lack of options for SAN monitoring.

The problem with SANs said Joe Mathis, fellow with Virtual Instruments, is that there's a lack of management options. Mathis, who said that he was part of the team that drew up the original fibre channel spec, said that problem was a long-standing one. "We never anticipated the need for monitoring - so we didn't write it in the spec - we just didn't anticipate the level of growth."

According to Justin May, Virtual Instruments' UK country manager, the idea of the service came from work that the company had done with one of its vendor partners for Unilever, one of its major customers. "The original engagement was with the HP SAN troubleshooting team - Unilever had multiple SANs and problems tend to emerge when they're heterogeneous."

He said that HP's management software had not been able to diagnose the problems as they were not designed for dealing with SANs, but Virtual Instruments' Virtual Wisdom was designed for this sort of problem-solving. "We were able to instrument and analyse it in 5 working days, instantly that tool gave them a lot of confidence."

May said that SOS-4-SANs was aimed at those organisations who have emergency issues. "Your application has gone down and you think that the SAN could be the reason, and it's not always easy to figure out what's happening." Previously, Virtual Instruments applied this type of analysis on behalf of switch or storage members but is now offering it to enterprises to call for help direct.

Mike Moore, Virtual Instruments' VP of global services said that the service wasn't cheap. "It's going to vary a great deal according to size of company, type of problem and where they're based but typically for a week long engagement with the engineer arriving overnight, complete with probes and analysers, you're looking at around $50,000. It does sound a lot but remember that diminished applications could be costing a customer $10,000 an hour - or even more."

Moore added that the service will be especially effective when it comes to dealing with problems involving multiple suppliers. "You have storage vendors, you have switch vendors, you have applications vendors, but when you try to find where the problem is, they go through a finger-pointing exercise. We're able to sort out where the real problem is."
The service will work with equipment from all SAN vendors including EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, HP, 3PAR, Dell, Sun, Brocade, Cisco, Qlogic, and Emulex, and is available now.