Storage vendors target virtual servers

Posted on October 01, 2007

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By the InfoStor staff

In a keynote at last month’s VMworld show in San Francisco, Cisco CEO John Chambers likened the rise of virtualization to the rise of the Internet, saying that virtualization will “usher in a new generation of productivity, changing how we work, where we work, and the nature of work itself.”

Today, virtualization applies predominantly to server virtualization, but the true promise of the technology will be realized when it encompasses not only servers, but also storage, networks, and other IT technologies. The fusion of server virtualization with storage technologies (although not necessarily storage virtualization per se) is one of the more exciting trends in this space, and nowhere was this more evident than at VMworld.

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A surprising number of storage vendors used VMworld as a springboard for product announcements, most of which were directly related to VMware. Here are some highlights:

VMware kicked off the conference with additions to its server virtualization platform, including an automated disaster-recovery tool, a virtual desktop infrastructure manager, and a next-generation hypervisor for VMware ESX Server 3i that will be embedded in server hardware.

The new VMware Site Recovery Manager gives VMware Infrastructure 3 users the ability to automate the setup, testing, and execution of recovery plans for their data centers.

VMware has determined that disaster recovery is one of the main reasons companies are adopting its virtual infrastructure platform. “Virtualization is becoming a standard way to deploy servers and storage,” says Jon Bock, VMware’s senior manager of product marketing. “We’re making it easier for customers to use storage technologies by making management tools virtualization-aware.”

Bock adds that Site Recovery Manager gives users a single point of control for all aspects of DR in VMware environments. Customers can use Site Recovery Manager to create, configure, and manage recovery plans; perform automated, non-disruptive testing of fail-over scenarios; and automatically execute DR plans in the event of an outage.

Bock says building VMware’s virtualization into hardware will speed the time to deployment of virtual infrastructures and allow users to boot up a server and immediately begin using the virtualization technology.

Hardware vendors are expected to begin shipping ESX Server 3i within their products by year-end.

VMware also extended its line of desktop virtualization products with Virtual Desktop Manager, a “connection broker” used to connect remote clients to centralized desktops in a VMware virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Bock claims Virtual Desktop Manager features improved virtual desktop management and better security for enterprise users.

EMC weighs in

Prior to the VMworld show, EMC announced a pair of new products designed to simplify the management of backups in virtual environments. Avamar Virtual Edition for VMware is a virtual version of its data de-duplication backup-and-recovery software, and Avamar Data Store is a pre-configured system consisting of Avamar software running on EMC hardware.

Building on EMC’s recently announced integration with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) for backup within and across virtual machines, Avamar Virtual Edition now brings data de-duplication into the mix and allows for quick, repeatable deployment of Avamar software on VMware ESX servers.

Avamar Virtual Edition for VMware combines backup and recovery with replication to move data between Avamar virtual machines or from Avamar VMs to the new Avamar Data Store or to standard Avamar servers.

The software supports up to 1TB of licensed capacity. EMC claims that 1TB of capacity is the equivalent of approximately 37TB of traditional backup storage when factoring in de-duplication ratios.

On the hardware side, the Avamar Data Store is available in multi-node or single-node models. The multi-node model is aimed at data-center deployments for backup consolidation of multiple remote locations or to protect VMware environments and LAN-attached servers. The multi-node model scales to the equivalent of a half-petabyte of traditional storage capacity. Each two-node expansion of the system bumps up the capacity by the equivalent of 70TB.

The single-node model is targeted for deployments in distributed or remote offices. Both models support replication, either from the remote office to the data center for consolidation, or between data centers for disaster-recovery purposes. Single-node models support an equivalent of 35TB of capacity.

Jim O’Dorisio, vice president and general manager of EMC’s Avamar business unit, says Avamar Virtual Edition and Avamar Data Store together simplify and expand the deployment options for EMC’s de-duplication software to manage backup growth for remote offices, branch offices, data-center LANs, and VMware environments.

“Backup in VMware environments is currently a challenge. Avamar Virtual Edition for VMware completely virtualizes the backup-and-recovery process and can be integrated into the ESX infrastructure,” says O’Dorisio.

Avamar backup software stores a single copy of sub-file data segments across sites and servers, which reduces the size of daily backups.

O’Dorisio says users can drop a virtual Avamar server into a VMware environment to minimize the amount of data that moves across the network, resulting in reduced backup windows and de-duplication ratios of up to 500:1 over time.

Add the Avamar Data Store to the equation as a target and, according to O’Dorisio, you have a pre-configured, pre-packaged virtual backup-and-recovery system with data reduction technology for VMware.

The EMC Avamar Data Store is priced from $30,000 for a single node. Avamar Virtual Edition for VMware will be available next month. Its cost will be based on de-duplicated backup capacity, with pricing starting at $17,000 for 1TB.

Physical/virtual backup

FalconStor Software announced a new way to protect both physical and virtual machines in VMware environments with the introduction of the Continuous Data Protection (CDP) Virtual Appliance for VMware. The CDP Virtual Appliance is not an appliance in the traditional sense but, rather, a pre-configured software application packaged with the operating system inside a virtual machine.

According to Diamond Lauffin, technology evangelist at FalconStor, integrating the CDP Virtual Appliance with VMware ESX servers provides users with the ability to eliminate mandatory restores and meet data-protection requirements by providing periodic and any-point-in-time access to prevent disaster-recovery scenarios and deliver business continuity.

Lauffin claims the virtual appliance can be deployed in VMware environments in less than 10 minutes, and the combination of CDP with VMware virtualization allows organizations to deploy FalconStor’s storage services using physical as well as virtual servers, ensuring continuous availability in the event of hardware or software failures or site-level disaster.

“This is true CDP for VMware because the virtual appliance has the ability to snap and protect all or any one virtual or physical server within a VMware environment,” says Lauffin.

The CDP Virtual Appliance enables physical-to-virtual (P2V) recovery of a crashed physical server, virtual-to-virtual (V2V) recovery of a crashed guest system, and rapid recovery of a lost file or database, regardless of size.

Features of FalconStor’s virtual appliance include snapshots, mirroring, and journaling for any point-in-time access; agent- and application-aware snapshots for transactional integrity and immediate access with no data loss; a replication option that extends data protection to remote sites; and FalconStor’s HyperTrac serverless backup acceleration technology.

Pricing starts at $7,995 for 2TB of capacity and can scale in increments of 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB.

Virtual iSCSI SANs

LeftHand Networks demonstrated its Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) for VMware ESX Server at VMworld.

Powered by LeftHand’s SAN/iQ software platform, the VSA converts internal storage on or across x86-based VI3 servers into a clustered iSCSI SAN and allows users to take advantage of features such as snapshots, thin provisioning, synchronous and asynchronous replication, automatic fail-over, and failback.

Production shipments are expected next month, but trial versions are available now at www.vmware.com or at www.lefthandnetworks.com.

Addressing data availability and recovery needs, LeftHand officials say server virtualization can create issues such as downtime in the event of a hardware failure. These issues include the disabling of multiple applications, which have been consolidated onto fewer physical servers. Also, the company says that although virtualization increases utilization of the CPU, memory, and network resources, it often leaves out the storage element.

LeftHand’s vice president of marketing, John Fanelli, says there are two predominant barriers to SAN adoption. Some smaller companies think they cannot afford a SAN, and larger companies have stranded storage and are paying for more power and cooling than they need.

LeftHand officials claim the VSA enables companies to deploy a virtualized SAN environment in a remote/branch office for less than 50% of the cost of a physical SAN.

With LeftHand’s VSA for VMware ESX, users can create a cluster out of two nodes. The appliance allows capacity integration so a virtual pool can consist of six disks. In addition, the storage won’t go offline if a system fails, making the data on the virtual SAN highly available.

TheVirtual SAN Appliance for VMware ESX Server is priced from $4,995.

Acronis announced that its new True Image Echo application enables IT managers to back up and restore both physical and virtual servers. True Image Echo is the latest addition to Acronis’ portfolio of backup-and-recovery, migration, and virtualization products. The software is compatible with Windows and Linux servers and supports virtual server platforms from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft, XenSource, and Parallels.

DataCore Software announced support for implementing its storage virtualization and SAN management solutions as “virtual servers” that can run on server virtualization platforms from vendors such as VMware, XenSource, Microsoft, and Virtual Iron, enabling users to create a virtual SAN storage server on VMs. The software includes DataCore’s SANmelody, Traveller, and SANsymphony.

InMage Systems and iStor Networks announced a strategic partnership at VMworld. The combination of iStor’s iS325 Storage System and InMage’s DR-Scout CDP software is designed for resellers and OEMs. Under the terms of the agreement, iStor will bundle a “lite” version of InMage’s DR-Scout disaster-recovery and CDP software with its iS325 systems.

EqualLogic will collaborate with VMware by integrating its PS Series IP SAN systems with VMware’s Site Recovery Manager. Joint customers will be able to automate recovery processes and test full recovery of VMware environments that have been replicated between two EqualLogic SANs. Auto-replication is a standard feature in its PS Series arrays.

Emulex announced that its HBAnyware management software now supports VMware Infrastructure environments. HBAnyware manages local and remote LightPulse host bus adapters (HBAs) within a centralized, cross-platform framework that combines remote-management options with secure access control. Emulex also announced that it will partner with Cisco for a storage solution for VMware environments.

QLogic focused on data migration at VMworld, claiming its virtual HBAs eliminate the need to reconfigure SAN functions after live VM migrations. Live migrations allow IT managers to take down a working server, upgrade the operating system, or apply patches, and then bring the server back up again while users continue to access applications on the server.

Pillar Data Systems has joined VMware’s Technology Alliance Partner Program. Pillar’s Axiom platform is designed to help users consolidate their storage resources, while simplifying management.

STORServer announced an agent for VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) that works with the company’s backup appliances. The agent includes a GUI for centralized management, scheduling, and reporting of virtual machine backups.

Onaro plans to extend its storage resource management (SRM) and capacity planning software with the upcoming launch of VM Insight 1.0, the latest addition to the company’s SANscreen software suite. VM Insight takes the existing path awareness and change management capabilities of SANscreen and applies them to virtualization environments.

The software displays real-time information on CPU, memory, I/O, network/SAN bandwidth, and array performance. According to Onaro, VM administrators can use the information to more efficiently deploy the correct ratio of VMs per physical server. The software also provides administrators with a common view of network storage service paths and changes.

Bryan Semple, Onaro’s VP of marketing, says, “The rollout of virtual machines has presented the challenge of mapping virtual storage and virtual servers.” VM Insight 1.0 will address management issues in virtual environments by providing users with a cross-functional view of the resources being used by VMs to enable optimization of the underlying infrastructure.

Semple says most VM management applications are focused on managing the VMs themselves and their associated images, while storage management and SRM application vendors have been building agents to read file-level data for the VMs. He claims VM Insight is the first “cross-domain” application with a consolidated view of an organization’s virtual infrastructure for both VM system administrators and storage administrators.

Pricing for SANscreen VM Insight will be announced when the product becomes generally available in December.


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