Xiotech Virtual View automates storage provisioning for VMware

Xiotech's Virtual View can help users of its ICON disk array management software centrally manage storage resources used by VMware virtual machines. The provisioning application shows storage administrators which storage volumes and LUNs are allocated to which ESX hosts.

Xiotech Corp. has launched Virtual View, a plug-in for its ICON disk array management software. The Virtual View plug-in can help storage administrators centrally manage storage resources used by VMware virtual machines.

Virtual View is the follow-up to Server View, Xiotech's resource management and provisioning application for physical machines. Virtual View will show customers which storage volumes and LUNs are allocated to which ESX hosts.

Xiotech customer Rey Balderas, senior systems administrator for TAC Inc., said that Virtual View is an improvement over VMware's Virtual Center management console. Virtual Center can give him the same information, but requires him to drill down into each virtual host and manual matching up LUN numbers. "I've already used [Virtual View] to coordinate data migrations," he said.

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Xiotech intends to add wizards and automated workflows to offer one management console linking guest host, ESX server, LUN and volume. Such provisioning is normally a manual, multistep process. Xiotech executives said they expect to add these provisioning capabilities to Virtual View in June.

Scott Ladewig, network and operations manager for Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, tested the new software briefly at Storage Networking World in April. "Right now it looks like it will give us a one-stop shop for provisioning virtual machines, rather than jumping between three or four different pieces of equipment," he said.

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman noted that the storage resource management (SRM) features in Virtual View are folded into Xiotech's array management console, rather than being sold as a standalone product. "A lot of SRM vendors have come out with this kind of thing lately, but it's nice to see it in the storage array as opposed to a complex third-party tool," he said.

But the real payoff is in the ability to take action on those SRM reports, added analyst Mark Peters, Enterprise Strategy Group. Respondents to a recent ESG survey about server virtualization deployments said they expect to double the number of physical servers equipped for virtualization and increase the number of virtual machines running on those servers by 150% over the next two years. "Simplifying the provisioning process and [having] a view into the interrelationships is key in scaling those virtualized infrastructures," he said.

Xiotech isn't alone in looking to provide such automation of the provisioning process. NetApp offers similar integration with Citrix's XenServer 4.1 and is planning to add VMware support to its Provisioning Manager automation software. EMC also introduced automated reporting and management features for VMware at its recen EMC World conference, but so far hasn't integrated storage utilization or provisioning features.

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