By Kevin Komiega
Symantec has taken another step on the path toward integrating all of its software management suites under one umbrella-this time in the Windows world-with the launch of the latest version of its Storage Foundation management product.
Versions of Storage Foundation 5.0 for Unix and Linux have been available for approximately six months. Windows support took a bit longer due to issues surrounding the release of Microsoft’s next-generation Longhorn operating system. “We were timing our release with Longhorn, but it has not yet been officially released. However, we will be able to support Longhorn when it’s released,” says Sean Derrington, Symantec’s director of storage management.
Symantec has been focusing on integrating its storage, server, and application management tools for some time. In its efforts to achieve the proverbial “single pane of glass,” Symantec has been enhancing its software offerings in several different ways.
“We’re focusing on four key areas with this effort: standardization, improved performance, usability, and manageability,” says Derrington.
Symantec designed Storage Foundation 5.0 HA for Windows with an eye toward taking the complexity out of the setup and installation process by including a set of new configuration wizards that speed storage, cluster, and replication installation setup and allow administrators to use a GUI to schedule point-in-time copies when using the FlashSnap Option.
The application performance enhancements included with Storage Foundation range from volume management to load-balancing. Storage Foundation for Windows adds a set of new application performance-enhancing capabilities, including dynamic optimization of storage volume layout, four new load-balancing algorithms for Dynamic Multi-Pathing (DMP) that allow for granular performance tuning for Exchange and SQL Server applications, and the Veritas FlashSnap Option, which offers better snapshot performance.
Veritas Cluster Server has received an overhaul as well with a range of new features. Cluster Server’s Web-based Cluster Management Console aids users with the tasks of managing, monitoring, and configuring multiple clusters for Windows, Linux, and Unix running in multiple data centers. Cluster Server provides the same protection levels across physical and virtual servers, including Windows, VMware, and Microsoft Virtual Server.
Cluster Server also includes Fire Drill, which enables organizations to regularly test disaster-recovery scenarios without exposing production applications to risk and downtime. The new step-by-step wizard-driven workflow simplifies the task of configuring Fire Drill, data replication, and high-availability/disaster-recovery solutions for Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle, and other applications. It also reduces risk to the business by pre-emptively and proactively identifying potential configuration issues before they occur by monitoring any configuration drift among cluster nodes.
Symantec officials also point to heterogeneous hardware and software support as a key feature of Storage Foundation 5.0, with support for arrays from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Network Appliance, Sun, and others. The software is certified as interoperable with Microsoft’s MPIO framework for both Fibre Channel HBA StorPort and Microsoft iSCSI software. Also, Storage Foundation for Windows introduces iSCSI SAN management capabilities, including automated discovery, management, and configuration of IP SANs.
Symantec has built in support for Storage Foundation Management Server, which provides multi-host management capabilities for centralized management of application, server, and storage environments. Storage Foundation Management Server will support Storage Foundation for Windows 4.x and 5.0, Veritas Volume Replicator Option, and Storage Foundation for Windows Basic, which means that users can view and manage all such instances of Storage Foundation across their entire data center through a single tool.
The Veritas Volume Replicator (VVR) Option has added the ability to coordinate snapshots at both the primary and/or a remote secondary location for consistent backup or disk-based disaster-recovery solutions. Additionally, with the new bunker replication feature of the VVR Option, organizations can select a data replication strategy of replicating data over any distance without losing a single transaction-a recovery point objective (RPO) of zero over any distance. Symantec claims that it’s the only company providing this level of protection for heterogeneous server and storage environments.
Also new to this release is Veritas Storage Foundation Basic for Windows, a free version of Storage Foundation for Windows, designed for edge-tier and infrastructure workloads, enabling users to extend a standard infrastructure management solution across every server in their data center.
Storage Foundation Basic for Windows includes Dynamic Multi-Pathing (DMP) and runs on physical and virtual servers with system configurations that do not exceed four volumes or two physical processors in a single physical system. Storage Foundation Basic for Windows is available as a free download at www.symantec.com/sfbasic.
The reasoning behind Symantec’s free software strategy is twofold, according to Derrington. The first goal is to give existing customers better visibility and control of their remote and branch locations, and the second is to entice potential customers to sample the paid versions of Symantec’s wares.
“The free version is targeted at existing customers running paid versions of Storage Foundation in the data center that want to run their edge environments with all of the same functionality,” says Derrington. “We are also targeting SMBs by offering them a free perpetual license.”
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at the StorageIO consulting firm, says that Symantec is, in fact, coming closer to realizing its vision of unified infrastructure management.
“Storage Foundation 5.0 for Windows is a step in the right direction on Symantec’s journey of bringing management of multiple infrastructure resources and components under common management, or at least an umbrella,” says Schulz. “Given all of the different infrastructure components that Symantec touches, this will not be a short journey.”
Schulz says the cluster management capabilities and free license support for “edge servers” are significant enhancements to Storage Foundation, along with the ease-of-use features. “Also significant in this release are the Fire Drill capabilities, as well as enhancements to DMP for fail-over and performance load-balancing,” says Schulz.