DataCore Extends Virtualization

Posted on May 02, 2001

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BY HEIDI BIGGAR

Next week, three-year-old start-up DataCore Software will release version 4.0 of its SANsymphony suite, further extending the company?s technology lead in the nascent storage virtualization market, analysts say.

New to the product is the Asynchronous Internet Mirroring (AIM) option, which essentially brings network storage pooling and remote replication services--common at the enterprise level--to departmental organizations.

With the new release, storage administrators now have a single way of replicating data to off-site locations over existing Fibre Channel or IP local-, metropolitan-, or wide-area networks, explains Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing at DataCore. The most notable benefits, he says, are more affordable disaster recovery and simplified storage administration.

DataCore has also added tertiary support to its synchronous network mirroring capability, enabling storage administrators to send mirrored data to two locations simultaneously. Destinations can be changed dynamically via a drag-and-drop graphical user interface.

Responding to user demand for increased flexibility and fault tolerance, DataCore has also established alternate path support for mixed-operating environments (Solaris, Windows NT, and Windows 2000), dual-port array extension, enhanced Microsoft Cluster support, and on-the-fly RAID protection.

As for competing out-of-band products from Compaq and in particular, Veritas, Gonzalez claims the two are at a performance and, in the case of Veritas, a pricing disadvantage to SANsymphony. He contends that the SANsymphony is less expensive and easier to manage than a comparably configured Veritas configuration. "There are (simply) fewer nodes to manage," claims Gonzalez.

SANsymphony starts at $30,000 per configured virtualization node, plus the cost of host bus adapters and/or switches.

Not only is DataCore's pricing attractive, but it's also available now, says Dan Tanner, senior analyst, storage and storage management, at the Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based research and consulting firm. "DataCore is proving that in-band is not necessarily slower and less scalable than out-of-band techniques. And they?ve cleverly worked around issues (with the in-band virtualization approach)," he says.

Critics of in-band, versus out-of-band, virtualization techniques cite problems with performance and difficulties with scalability as potentially significant stumbling blocks, especially in larger, more-complex storage area network (SAN) environments. In-band models pass data and control information along the same, rather than separate, paths (see: "Storage virtualization: What, how, and why," InfoStor, March 2001, p. 58).

DataCore discounts such statements, claiming its SANsymphony software actually improves performance, via caching, in many implementations, while providing enterprise-level scalability. Advanced caching, says Ken Horner, DataCore?s vice president of marketing, actually boosts the performance to back-end devices without significantly driving up system costs.


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