FalconStor teams with Virtual Iron

By Ann Silverthorn
—FalconStor Software, which specializes in disk-based data protection solutions, and Virtual Iron, a provider of server virtualization software, today announced an alliance to streamline storage and server virtualization deployments. By jointly certifying their products, the companies aim to enhance business continuity capabilities for organizations of all sizes. The software combination will be supported by FalconStor's IPStor platform.

The combined solution is geared toward improving data-center resource management by increasing utilization of existing physical assets, optimizing virtual infrastructure performance through real-time data migration, and delivering more cost-effective high availability and disaster recovery capabilities.

Chris Barclay, director of product marketing for Virtual Iron, says, "We consistently see that customers starting server virtualization immediately start looking at networked storage. This is because one of the benefits of networked storage and server virtualization is that it extracts the hardware from the operating system, allowing the operation system (or workload) to freely float around the data center. This helps with a number of different usage scenarios, ranging from no downtime to the ability to appropriately size workloads. With this announcement, the notion of data mobility extends from servers down into storage."

The partnership leverages the software suites of both companies to deliver the following virtual infrastructure and data-protection benefits:

Better utilization of existing physical assets improves resource management.
Thin provisioning of disk resources maximizes disk space and optimizes storage management in virtual environments. The technology allows administrators to permit two or more storage resources to share their capacities. So if one is at 75% of its capacity and the other at 25% of its capacity, both storage arrays could be virtually combined and then data could be distributed across both machines, allowing organizations to maximize the utilization of existing physical resources without impacting the virtual resources. The virtual machines run without knowing that they're sharing a storage resource.

Bernie Wu, vice president of business development at FalconStor, says, "Resource utilization both on the server and storage side, using thin provisioning, is a key reason companies will want to go to a completely virtualized environment."

Real-time migration optimizes virtual infrastructure performance.
Regarding the migration-performance link, Barclay says, "The alliance between Virtual Iron and FalconStor allows users to seamlessly migrate data between servers and storage arrays. Coupling that with Virtual Iron's migration tool gives organizations a flexible infrastructure that allows resizing both up and down based on business needs and SLAs."

In addition, the availability of hot migrations increases performance. "Because we can present the virtual storage layer directly to the virtual machines within the Virtual Iron servers, we can perform hot migrations," says FalconStor's Wu. "With our ability to do synchronous mirroring, data can be sent from one array to another without downtime to the virtual machines. Reasons for hot migrations might be that the array's lease is up, or an organization might want to move to a higher-performance array."

Business continuity capabilities deliver data protection and disaster recovery.
Whether the main concern is high availability, business continuity, data protection, disaster recovery, or all of the above, the FalconStor/Virtual Iron solution is designed to help users expand their business continuity strategies.

FalconStor uses a snapshot agent that assures that the data to be mirrored is in a recoverable state. Wu says the snapshots are "transactionally consistent and space efficient."

FalconStor's continuous data protection (CDP) software journals every "write" coming off the virtual-machine disk and puts it in storage. If a corruption exists at 11:00 a.m., the IT administrator can roll the disk back to 10:59 a.m. by reversing the writes. FalconStor also has a process that de-duplicates data over the WAN.

"One of the reasons only 26% of respondents to an ESG survey [see chart below] are using WAN replication is because of the cost of bandwidth. Our technology helps improve those economics, but also helps usrs move from any type of array to any other type of array," says Wu.

The combined solution has a "zero touch" installation feature, but customers must first purchase their hardware and run FalconStor software on it. After that, they must purchase another server and then add the Virtual Iron software for $799 per CPU socket.

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This article was originally published on January 10, 2008