EMC is expected to finally unveil its much-previewed storage router next week. It is designed to ease the movement of data across different types of storage environments and support intelligent storage applications such as information lifecycle management.

EMC declined to comment on any announcements planned for the show. However it has published papers, here and here, extensively describing its network storage virtualisation ideas.

The Storage Router is an out-of-band appliance, called a Control Path Processor (CPP), built on a dual-node server cluster. It connects to a Fibre Channel switch within a storage area network. The appliance works with Cisco’s MDS 9000 director-level switches, Brocade’s Silkworm Fabric Application AP7420, and also McData’s switches, pending certification from EMC. The Storage Router software acts as a metadata repository, and organizes and tracks the location of data in the virtualized pool of storage.

According to the EMC papers, it will manage data presentation, including volume management functions such as mapping volumes to physical storage, and data access functions. The software should be able to dynamically move volumes from one location to another whilst accessing applications remain online. They address the same volume but the storage router software remaps the address to the changed location. This can help with the insertion of new arrays into a SAN.

Point-in-time copies should also be possible with the storage router. It is managed from a Web-based GUI, a command-line interface, or from EMC’s ControlCenter software.

EMC’s SPAID or out-of-band Storage Router will compete with IBM’s in-band, fabric-based SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi Data Systems’ array-based TagmaStore. Because the Storage Router lets I/O processing remain on the Fibre Channel switch, it is expected to perform at 30,000 to 40,000 I/Os per second.

The Storage Router conforms to the Fabric Application Interface Standard (FAIS), which consists of a common API for implementing storage applications within a SAN.

Interestingly, EMC has added a new trademark to the block of terms listed on documents such as its AX100 Support Matrix. It is InVista which appears on this 1st April 2005 document. Items being in view, or in vista, would seem to be a good fit to a network storage virtualisation concept. The InVista trademark is not included in the 18th March 2005 Network Storage Virtualisation white paper, suggesting it is a new arrival.

The Storage Router is expected to ship at the end of June.