Veritas virtualizes storage Compaq's VersaStor due next year

Posted on July 01, 2000


By Zachary Shess

Veritas Software recently introduced SANPoint Control storage virtualization software, representing the first storage area network (SAN) management suite to emerge from its V3 initiative announced last Fall. The first version of the software is expected to ship next month.

Veritas officials say storage virtualization software is needed to mask SAN complexities, and to offer discovery of heterogeneous devices and their connections to hosts in both a logical and physical view. According to Jen Tisevich, Veritas product manager, discovery provides device health information, as well as fault isolation when devices fail. To enable this, Veritas utilizes its V3 SAN Access Layer, host-based APIs that communicate and collect data for applications, SAN devices, and fabrics.

In addition to discovery, SANPoint Control version 1.0 provides a centralized tool for visualization and zoning administration. Visualization includes connectivity mapping to decipher physical connections and to help with zoning and storage allocation, as well as a customized viewer that allows administrators to monitor the SAN from either a hierarchical, network, or circular point of view. A zoning wizard is also included in the suite to provide drag-and-drop configuration.

SANPoint Control allows administrators to discover SAN devices and connections, map the SAN topology, and allocate storage.
Click here to enlarge image

While users can launch Veritas Volume Manager through SANPoint Control initially, further integration with Veritas File System, Veritas Cluster Server, and NetBackup is expected in subsequent versions to be launched over the next 12 months.

SANPoint Control 1.0 will first support Solaris, with support for Windows 2000 due by the end of the year and HP-UX next year. Switch vendors currently supported include Ancor, Brocade, Gadzoox, and McData.

SANPoint Control Version 1.1 is due by the end of the year, and will include advanced notification features, such as pager or e-mail alerts to administrators. Version 2.0 is scheduled for release early next year.

In a related move, Veritas last month announced its SANPoint Consulting services, which include assessment, design, and software deployment services.

Compaq's virtualization

Last month, Compaq demonstrated its VersaStor storage virtualization technology, with a target release date of mid-2001. Compaq officials are quick to point out that VersaStor is not a file system, and is not intended for data sharing. The technology provides block-level storage abstraction, presenting servers with a logical view of virtual disks.

"Abstraction gives you capabilities such as taking snapshots of all storage in the pool," explains Gary Wright, director of marketing, "and it allows you to dynamically grow the size of the pool without affecting applications. But most importantly, you can migrate data around the pool without the servers knowing about it."

How it works

Differentiating it from most other "SAN appliance" technologies, VersaStor is based on an asymmetrical design in which control is off to the side of the SAN (e.g., not in the data path). Two key advantages of the asymmetrical approach vs. symmetrical approaches are that it eliminates single points of failure and it eliminates latency in the data path.

Management software runs in one or more appliances connected to the SAN. The appliances will be based on Windows 2000, with modifications such as a messaging protocol and management software.

VersaStor also includes agent technology that can be implemented in host bus adapters (HBAs) or in software driver-like code on the server. Compaq plans to license the code to HBA and system software vendors.

As explained by Wright, the appliances create virtual mapping tables that map between virtual disks and physical data. The management software loads up to the agents the mapping tables, providing volume-masking-type capability.

VersaStor storage pooling can be used with any vendor's storage subsystems, according to Wright. For more information visit: www.compaq.com/storage/index.html.

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