SANMelody Tunes Up SMB Storage


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In addition to its base features, DataCore offers optional modules such as an FC emulator that presents disks to FC SAN application hosts. Other options include auto failover (or high availability), snapshots, auto provisioning (AP) and asynchronous IP mirroring. Snapshots offer typical features available with similar products. However, AP and asynchronous IP mirroring deserve a bit more attention. With AP, you can allocate LUNs to application hosts that represent the addressable limit of the operating system without actually reserving the physical storage. This is implemented using networked managed volumes (NMV).

NMVs are defined using pools. A pool is created and then physical, unformatted disks are assigned to the pool. NMVs are then provisioned from this dynamically growing pool of storage without downtime to the application server. This is how AP lets you present a "defined" 2TB LUN (NMV) to the application host, and then have the storage server request additional storage from the managed pool in definable chunks as the amount of data the application actually stores grows to 2TB. Should the pool run out of raw capacity before the LUN reaches 2TB, SANMelody will stop serving storage after issuing warnings.

Asynchronous IP Mirroring (AIM) works by defining relationships between destination and source volumes using managers at each location. Buffering--necessary in long distance

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storage links--is implemented using a volume on both the destination and source storage servers and can be sized to accommodate lengthy outages. However, during normal operations, the speed of the disk drive could hamper performance for the most demanding applications because the speed of the network is faster than the burst rate of a single disk drive.

SANMelody's base pricing is structured on categories A to D, which are determined by the number of disk drives, front-end ports and CPUs that are addressable by the storage server. Base prices range from approximately $1,200 to $8,000, depending on the category of your server, with each option averaging out to be about 50% of the base price.

DataCore's SANMelody does a good job of lassoing raw capacity and presenting it to application hosts in easily managed volumes. The range of supported client operating systems sufficiently covers most IT organizations, which is a requisite for products like SANMelody to compete with array ports.

The lack of support for the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and for safeguards for cache protection may limit the deployment of this product to smaller organizations. Certainly, larger data centers located in areas of recurring power outages aren't likely to risk exposing themselves to the potential loss of productivity or data.

Overall, SANMelody is a good in-band software provisioning tool. It has a rich set of features, including support for FC and iSCSI, as well as auto provisioning and long-distance IP mirroring. Although it supports larger disk arrays, it also supports general-purpose operating systems and scalable, modular storage from most vendors.

This was first published in June 2004

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