NetScout has announced software for monitoring Cisco's virtual SANs.

The nGenius probes allow for real-time monitoring of VSANs, so traffic in each area can be analysed and a network's current and future requirements worked out.

Virtual SANs are a way of partitioning a physical SAN into sections and confining any network problems, such as a failed port, to the confines of the affected virtual SAN. This allows storage admins to build more scalable and reliable SANs able to support multiple applications in a single physical infrastructure.

Up until now there hasn't been a way of monitoring the performance of VSANs as opposed to the actual physical ports, switches and links in the physical SAN. And perhaps not surprisingly, Cisco likes NetScout's product. "NetScout is helping our mutual customers effectively address the growing challenges of deploying and managing large SAN infrastructures," said Bill Erdman, Cisco's director of marketing for storage.

He added: "We have introduced VSAN and Inter-VSAN routing features in the Cisco MDS 9000 in order to provide SAN managers with the means to better control and segment their storage traffic,"

The addition of switch roving capabilities in the nGenius Fibre Channel Probes offers a way to troubleshoot Fibre Channel segments and switches. Connected to a mirror port on a switch, an nGenius Probe can rove to all ports in the switch, allowing SAN managers to troubleshoot under or over-utilization, identify bandwidth hogs on a port, or execute a packet capture on a port to perform detailed analysis.

Nancy Marrone-Hurley, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group, is also in favour: "NetScout is providing a level of visibility into SANs that no other vendor can provide today."

The nGenius 9800 Fibre Channel Probe can be configured to automatically discover and monitor virtual SANs present on Enhanced Inter-Switch Links (EISL) in Cisco Fibre Channel SAN implementations. All the network performance analysis details provided on Fibre Channel segments are now extended to the VSANs.

As for other SAN segmentation products, Jim Frey, NetScout VP of marketing said, "Conversations are ongoing with both Brocade and McData. They are a bit behind Cisco in rolling their technologies out."

NetScout recently announced the bundling of nGenius with a RedHat Enterprise Linux server, to make installation of the management software easier. The software itself was revamped in July.

The new enhancements are available in nGenius Performance Manager 2.0.1 Service Pack 1 and nGenius Probe Firmware CDM 2.1 for nGenius 9800 Fibre Channel Probes at no additional charge.