EMC will release its much-anticipated Invista storage router this week. The hardware and software package is designed to optimise storage resources and ease data movement across systems.

EMC officials have been talking up Invista for at least a year, but it is finally planned for release at the company's Technical Summit in New Orleans, which runs from today until Thursday.

Invista - "in sight" in Italian - is an out-of-band appliance built on a dual-node server cluster that connects to a Fibre Channel switch within a storage-area network (SAN). Software inspects every packet of data passing through a Fibre Channel switch to a storage array. It classifies the data and assigns it a unique identifier so it can be organised, tracked and managed across a pool of storage resources.

The storage router works with Cisco's MDS 9000 director-level switches and Brocade's Silkworm Fabric Application AP7420. It also will work with McData switches, pending certification from EMC. Invista conforms to the Fabric Application Interface Standard, which features a common API for storage apps within a SAN environment.

Invista can be managed via a Java-based GUI, command-line interface or EMC's ControlCenter software.

It will compete with IBM's in-band, fabric-based SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi's array-based TagmaStore array. Because Invista delegates I/O processing to the Fibre Channel switch, I/O is not slowed, EMC says. The company says it expects the system to support 30,000 to 40,000 I/Os per second.

Analysts say the choice of the EMC Invista or another virtualization approach depends on the applications a user wants to run. "If you are looking for doing volume aggregation, IBM's SAN Volume Controller or DataCore's and Falconstor's products make sense," says Greg Schulz, an analyst with Evaluator Group. "If you are looking to address things such as data movement and migration and use an underlying array, then the EMC storage router is the right choice."

Invista is expected to be priced starting at about $140,000.