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IBM to resell DataCore's SANsymphony

In a joint announcement, IBM Corporation and DataCore Software announced they have entered into a reseller agreement. Under terms of this agreement, IBM will resell the DataCore SANsymphony storage management software. IBM will initially support only the Enterprise Storage Server storage (ESS) in SANsymphony server configurations. Application server platforms supported are Windows NT/2000, Solaris 2.6 or 2.7 and HP-UX 11.0. IBM Global Services will support the SANsymphony implementations.

Evaluator Group note:

The DataCore SANsymphony storage management software is a symmetrical pooling abstraction solution that allows heterogeneous server attachment to a common storage pool. A detailed analysis of the DataCore SANsymphony solution is located in the SAN Management Section of the ESOL Data Base.

SANsymphony overview

The DataCore SANsymphony Software is a SAN management solution that provides an abstraction of storage. The software is designed to run on Intel-based processors connected to a Storage Area Network. The features that the SANsymphony software enables include the following:

  • Virtualization of storage controlled by the SANsymphony software,
  • Attachment of heterogeneous servers to storage with no server software required,
  • Volumes may be shared between cooperating servers by assigning read and write privileges,
  • Centralized administration through a centralized

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  • management console,
  • Security control for attached storage,
  • Attachment of heterogeneous storage devices,
  • Enables advanced storage management functions such as snapshot and data caching,
  • Enables the flexibility of booting any server from a SAN virtual disk,
  • Allows various attachment options for storage systems.

The DataCore software, SANsymphony, runs on an Intel-based server called the Storage Domain Server. The Storage Domain Servers will have ownership of particular storage devices and present virtual logical units (LUNs) to the servers attached to the storage network.

Multiple Storage Domain Servers may exist with each having distinct storage devices under their control. Security of access to LUNs is accomplished by explicit source-destination validation and repudiation using the World Wide Name of the server. Specific LUNs may be mirrored between Storage Domain Servers to provide for fault tolerant operation. Data flows through the Storage Domain Server when it is being transferred between the storage devices and the servers. Caching is done in the Storage Domain Server for performance considerations. Since each SDS owns distinct storage devices (operates asynchronously), caching of the data does not represent an exposure to coherency. In the case of mirrored data, the mirrored data is used in a failover state only with alternate path software in the servers.

There are two versions of the software offered: an entry level Server Edition and the full-function Network Edition. The Server Edition is upgradeable to the Network Edition.

Server Edition

  • Manages a single storage pool through a Storage Domain Server.
  • Multiple Server Edition storage pools may exist in a SAN but each will be independent.

Network Edition

  • Allows mirroring of virtual disks between collaborating Storage Domain Servers (I/O from the application servers is done exclusively to a single SDS although the SDS mirrors data to another SDS).
  • Uses Storage Domain Server host bus adapters both as targets and initiators to support application server I/O and SDS mirroring.
  • Shares configuration information between Storage Domain Servers for global visibility of virtual disk assignments for centralized administration.
  • Allows load distribution to occur between Storage Domain Servers by changing the active virtual disk to the mirror on another SDS.

Evaluator Group comments:

DataCore was one of the first companies to deliver a solution for SAN management that offered storage abstraction. The DataCore solution is a very stable offering that has demonstrable value in the reduction of administrative costs. We believe there are more advantages that can be delivered with additional software functions particularly in the area of policy management. The challenge for DataCore was in the marketing of the solution. Last May DataCore and Fujitsu Softek signed an OEM agreement in which Softek would resell the SANsymphony management software. With this agreement, DataCore gains another partner with proven enterprise deployment skills and worldwide service and support.

IBM has chosen to restrict the supported application servers on SANsymphony configurations and will initially support only the ESS as back-end storage. We hope these are temporary restrictions, as the SANsymphony symmetrical pooling solution will support heterogeneous server and storage. IBM now joins Hewlett-Packard in offering a symmetrical pooling abstraction solution.

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This was first published in December 2001

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