VMworld: FalconStor virtualizes SANs, replication for VMware

By Kevin Komiega

-- At the VMworld conference in Las Vegas this week, FalconStor Software unveiled a new virtual appliance that creates iSCSI SANs based on the internal storage resources of a VMware server, and announced that its Network Storage Server (NSS) Gateway virtualization and data-protection system has been certified for VMware Infrastructure 3.

The FalconStor NSS Gateway is a software-based product that acts as a storage virtualization and replication gateway to existing heterogeneous storage arrays, provisioning virtual disks to VMware ESX and opening the door for VMware Site Recovery Manager to operate in multi-vendor SAN environments. 

The NSS Gateway enables any Fibre Channel SAN on the VMware Hardware Compatibility List with VMware Site Recovery Manager integration, WAN-accelerated replication, and snapshot support. 

The NSS Gateway includes Application Snapshot Director for VMware ESX, which ensures active application data can be replicated with full transactional integrity to remote sites. Applications supported include Microsoft SQL Server, Sharepoint, and Exchange, as well as Oracle Database, Lotus Notes, Sybase Database Management, and IBM DB2.

The FalconStor MicroScan Thin Storage Replication feature in the NSS Gateway optimizes WAN bandwidth utilization, while thin provisioning of all local and remote storage reduces overall storage requirements.

The gateway also features snapshot agents for business applications that ensure data integrity so that applications running on both physical and virtual machines are fail-over-ready.

"We're enabling users to deploy heterogeneous storage environments at both primary and secondary sites and replicate data regardless of their infrastructure," says Fadi Albatal, director of marketing at FalconStor. "That brings down the cost of deploying Site Recovery Manager and maintains a low cost of operation for bandwidth."

The new NSS Virtual Appliance for VMware ESX includes most of the features of the enterprise-class NSS Gateway, except for multi-protocol support. The Virtual Appliance only supports the iSCSI protocol and is used to turn existing direct-attached storage into an iSCSI virtual SAN appliance for VMware environments. 

Albatal says the Virtual Appliance is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and remote-office users in need of cost-effective storage system with disaster-recovery capabilities in VMware environments.

"It has been cost-prohibitive for these customers to deploy a SAN in each of their branch offices and enable replication," says Albatal. "Since we're already present in the data center, we can take the exact same software and put it into the branch office using the Virtual Appliance."

The NSS Virtual Appliance is available as a software download for a starting price of $2,000 per appliance. A single NSS Virtual Appliance is capable of virtualizing about 2TB of storage capacity.

The free edition is a pre-built, pre-configured virtual SAN appliance for VMware ESX and VMware ESXi. FalconStor is offering trial downloads and a free version of the NSS Virtual Appliance in an effort to entice users into adopting the technology.

Related articles:

FalconStor releases IPStor 6.0
FalconStor ships clustered VTL with de-dupe
Storage vendors target virtual servers

This article was originally published on September 16, 2008