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DataCore adds support for cloud as storage tier

When DataCore added automated tiering to its SANsymphony-V storage virtualization software in July, it left out support for one tier – the cloud.

Today, DataCore addressed that omission through a partnership with cloud storage gateway vendor TwinStrata.

SANsymphony-V virtualizes storage across pools of heterogeneous systems, adding management features such as thin provisioning, RAID striping, asynchronous replication, and snapshots. The new tiering feature lets customers dynamically move disk blocks among different pools of storage devices.

Beginning in late October, when a customer purchases SANsymphony-V — which DataCore calls a “storage hypervisor” — it will include a 1 TB version of TwinStrata’s CloudArray virtual appliance at no extra cost. That lets DataCore customers move data off to the cloud, although they need a subscription with a cloud storage provider such as Amazon S3 or Nirvanix. A DataCore customer can also go beyond a 1 TB gateway by upgrading the appliance through TwinStrata, which charges $4,995 for unlimited capacity. The CloudArray software deduplicates, compresses and encrypts data before moving it to the cloud.

TwinStrata also sells its cloud gateway as an appliance. DataCore CEO George Teixeira said SANsymphony-V will also work with the hardware appliance, using it as cache to speed backups.

“Now we’ve allowed a cloud tier to be part of our storage hypervisor,” Teixeira said. “When data gets to a lower tier, it can be put on an iSCSI device that is actually a cloud disk.”

There are other cloud gateway products on the market, but Teixeira said he picked TwinStrata because it supports iSCSI while most of the others are for files and backup. As the name implies, SANsymphony-V is a SAN application, so it required a block storage gateway.

“Most of them [gateways] are doing things at the file system,” Teixeira said. “These guys [TwinStrata] present an iSCSI disk. We can use storage virtualization across all disk and this looks like another disk we are auto-tiering, so it plays into our model. This doesn’t require a lot of thinking on the part of the customer. It’s just another tier, and you can choose to pick a pay-as-you-go model.”

Although TwinStrata can handle primary storage, Teixeira said he expects his customers to use the cloud mostly for backup and archiving. “I think we have some ways to go to get to primary storage in the cloud,” he said. “We’re looking mostly at backup, archiving and scratch storage. We think most production data will stay on-premise, but why not put non-production and backup data on the cloud?”

TwinStrata is looking to use partnerships to get its gateway into the market, even if it has to give it away at first. Last month the startup began offering a free 1 TB CloudArray appliance to Veeam Backup & Replication customers who want to back up to the cloud.

Gartner research director Gene Ruth said organizations are interested in moving to the cloud, but are still looking for the best way to go about it. He said storage virtualization and gateways are two potential starting points.

“It’s hard for people to get their arms around the idea that they’ll put all their data out on the cloud, but they know they have some data they can put out there,” he said. “I see storage virtualization in general as one of those building blocks to help consolidate a cloud storage environment around a common provisioning point. It’s not the end-all, but it’s a good start.”

Ruth said he also sees gateways as key enablers of cloud storage, and not just as standalone devices.

“It seems a pretty obvious step for major vendors to put that [gateway] functionality into disk arrays and file servers,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that difficult to add a gateway to their arrays.”

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