IBM adds space saving features to SVC

By Kevin Komiega

—IBM today announced that it has upgraded the software features of its System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) virtualization device to bring some space saving capabilities to users concerned about disk capacity and power consumption.

The SVC is a network-based virtualization appliance designed to pool the storage capacity of multiple systems on a SAN and dynamically move and copy data. The latest software release for the product, version 4.3, features a pair of enhancements aimed at minimizing capacity requirements, including Space-Efficient Virtual Disks and Space-Efficient FlashCopy.

The Space-Efficient Virtual Disks feature is essentially IBM's implementation of thin-provisioning technology, which uses disk space only when data is written instead of reserving disk space for the entire capacity of a virtual disk.

Space-Efficient FlashCopy—IBM's name for snapshots—builds on the SVC's existing FlashCopy function to copy only the changes between source and target data, and not for the entire capacity of a virtual disk copy, ultimately saving space at the destination.

Thin provisioning and snapshots are nothing new, but Chris Saul, marketing manager for the SVC product line in IBM's Systems Group, says that the heterogeneous nature of the SVC gives it a leg up on competing arrays or host-based alternatives.

"We're not the first company with thin provisioning or snapshot functions, but the difference is that we provide those capabilities in a system that people can add to a network they already have," says Saul. "Customers can add the SVC to an existing SAN fabric and these new functions become available on the systems they already have."

The SVC 4.3 software release also features Virtual Disk Mirroring, a tool that boosts application availability by storing two copies of a virtual disk on different disk systems; support for Windows Server 2008 and Mac OS X Server; and support for Pillar Data Systems' family of Axiom disk systems.

New and existing customers can take advantage of the Space-Efficient Virtual Disks thin-provisioning feature for free when they upgrade to SVC 4.3. The Space-Efficient FlashCopy feature, however, does cost extra, as it requires a FlashCopy license. FlashCopy starts at $7,000 per terabyte, but the price declines as the capacity grows with the per-terabyte cost dropping to $1,000 at 250TB or more under management by the SVC.

The new SVC 4.3 software will be available for download on June 27.

IBM also announced a new release of the System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) management console for SVC systems. The SSPC integrates virtual and physical infrastructure management and includes TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication 3.4, which manages SVC FlashCopy and Metro and Global Mirror.

This article was originally published on June 11, 2008