Taming storage virtualization


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Symantec's Veritas Storage Foundation Manager, used in conjunction with VxVM, lets administrators manage up to 3,000 hosts from a single Web console, including hosts like the Sun LDom. Also, when using Veritas Storage Foundation with Veritas CommandCentral, storage administrators can map what virtual resources are assigned to what physical resources.

At this point Symantec still has no official timeline as to when integration with VMware's ESX Server will be complete; Sean Derrington, Symantec's director of storage management, says Symantec is still waiting for access to VMware ESX Server's APIs before it can port its VxVM to the ESX hypervisor. Once Symantec has the ESX APIs, "we will be there," says Derrington.

Software mix approach
Some companies may find they need a mix of storage virtualization and SRM software to virtualize and manage data at multiple points within the storage infrastructure. HDS, HP, Network Appliance (NetApp) Inc. and Sun use storage system controllers to virtualize their own and other vendors' storage systems. While NetApp uses its own V-Series platforms to virtualize other systems, HDS, HP and Sun all use HDS's Universal Storage Platform (USP) V.

HP has an engineering and OEM relationship with HDS in which the two firms jointly develop the XP and USP V families. Inputs, suggestions, fixes and contributions received from HP are incorporated

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into a single version of HDS firmware that's then released into all versions of the XP/USP V products. The only differences between the software on the XP and USP V are ID strings embedded into the firmware. "HP uses these IDs to create disaster recovery solutions that work exclusively with the XP," says James Wilson, HP's XP product manager.

Hu Yoshida, CTO at HDS, says his firm has specifically chosen to stay out of the network fabric because it's trying to satisfy specific customer high-availability and performance requirements, and deliver specific functions that network-based appliances can't. Unlike network-based appliances, which lose 50% of their performance should an appliance fail and have a fixed amount or no cache, the USP V can create a cache that spans multiple controllers and processors.

"A fully configured USP V can lose up to four processors and still access the common cache without data loss," says Yoshida.

HDS, HP, NetApp and Sun offer one set of SRM products to manage their own storage systems and another set of SRM tools to manage heterogeneous SAN environments. HP breaks its SRM software into three categories: unified storage and server management, element management and performance management. If you only need to manage storage products from HP, then HP's element management and performance management classifications will likely meet your requirements. Conversely, if a company intends to manage a heterogeneous storage environment, then they'll need to introduce HP's Storage Essentials product to provide this level of server and storage management.

Vendors are moving closer toward tying their storage virtualization and SRM software together. But because of the time and effort required to implement virtualization and complementary SRM software, you should deploy virtualization products gradually while keeping expectations at a modest level.

Click here for the pros and cons of vendors' virtualization options (PDF).

This was first published in January 2008

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