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Enterprise storage system software: 2013 Products of the Year finalists

The 12 product finalists in the storage system software category include flash-based caching, storage virtualization and other technologies.

Storage Products of the Year 2013 finalists

The 12 finalists in the enterprise storage system software category of the Storage magazine/ 2013 Products of the Year competition span a wide range of technologies, including flash-based caching, storage virtualization, software-defined storage, cloud storage and performance optimization. Competition finalists are listed in alphabetical order by vendor.

CloudByte Inc. ElastiStor 1.2

CloudByte's ElastiStor 1.2 software monitors and adjusts IOPS, throughput and latency to let administrators tailor performance by application or tenant. The software can run on commodity hardware and leverage the ZFS file system to create a unified storage pool for file, block and JBOD storage. Features include support for hybrid storage platforms, including all-solid-state drive (SSD) pools and data migration from other ZFS-based vendors through ElastiStor's management console.

Condusiv Technologies Corp. V-locity VM

V-locity VM software optimizes I/O at the virtual machine (VM) layer to reduce I/O traffic and accelerate storage performance without requiring new hardware. Product enhancements include server-side DRAM read caching, which uses available memory to boost performance, a re-architected write optimization engine and an embedded benchmark tool to audit performance.

DataCore Software Corp. SANsymphony-V R9.0.3

DataCore Software's SANsymphony-V software-based storage virtualization now works with external SANs and server-side virtual SANs with flash- or disk-based storage. Release 9 quadrupled scalability to a maximum of eight nodes per centralized group, improved response time through I/O tuning and DRAM cache optimizations, and provided special adaptations for persistent Tier-0 flash memory storage and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel ports.

Maxta Inc. Storage Platform 1.5

Maxta Storage Platform (MxSP) 1.5 aims to eliminate the need for traditional SAN and network-attached storage arrays by creating a global namespace and aggregating storage resources on commodity servers into a shared storage pool available to virtual servers. The software supports snapshots, replication, thin provisioning, compression and deduplication, and can leverage flash for read and write-back caching.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 R2 added automatic tiering to the operating system's Storage Spaces technology, which groups drives into a storage pool. R2 also enabled deduplication of virtual hard disks (VHDs) for running VMs. Shared VHDX added the ability to create and share a VHD file among multiple VMs. Storage Quality of Service enabled users to restrict disk throughput for overactive or disruptive VMs and prevent a single VM from consuming all the I/O bandwidth.

NTP Software Precision Tiering

NTP Software Precision Tiering facilitates automated policy-driven data migration, manual user-driven movement or a combination of both. Features include event-based tiering, any source to any destination migration (CIFS or NFS), damaged metadata correction and split data migrations to separate locations.

PernixData Inc. PernixData FVP Version 1.0

PernixData's Flash Virtualizaton Platform (FVP) deploys as a hypervisor-only kernel module and virtualizes server-side flash into a clustered tier to boost performance. The software requires no changes to VMs, servers or storage, and provides full read and write acceleration with fault tolerance. FVP allows any host to remotely access the flash on any other host in the cluster and supports all VMware operations.

Proximal Data AutoCache 2.0

Proximal Data's AutoCache 2.0 is hypervisor-based caching software that places hot I/O into a local PCI Express flash card or SSD and supplies prioritized data traffic to VMs. Enhancements include the Fast Load Caching Algorithm to improve performance upon initial boot/reboot, pre-warmed caching for VMware's vMotion to meet service-level agreements, and support for Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware ESXi hypervisors.

Sanbolic Inc. Melio5

Sanbolic's Melio host-based distributed file system and volume management aims to turn commodity hardware into scale-out storage that can support up to 2,048 nodes. Version 5 added synchronous mirroring and asynchronous replication for disaster recovery (DR) in geographically distributed multisite environments, cluster-aware snapshots, enhanced RAID capabilities with support for hot spares, Write Once-Read Many support for improved flash utilization and user-defined data tiering.

SanDisk Corp. FlashSoft 3.2

SanDisk's FlashSoft 3.2 host-based caching software improved scalability for large data sets by permitting up to four separate caches per server, boosting the maximum cache size from 1 TB to 2 TB and increasing the number of volumes supported by a single cache from 255 to 2,048. The updated product also added support for concatenated SSDs for larger caches, heterogeneous SSDs for different priority caches and write-back caching with SSD mirroring.

Silicon Graphics International (SGI) Corp. StorHouse ForeverNAS

SGI's October acquisition of FileTek Inc. brought StorHouse ForeverNAS into the fold. The product combines standard NAS capabilities with a virtualized storage layer to integrate disk, tape and cloud. Features include automated tiered storage, automated backup and DR that require no restore process, global namespace and automated data migration for hardware upgrades with no downtime.

SwiftStack Inc. SwiftStack

The SwiftStack private cloud storage product is based on open source OpenStack Object Storage, also known as Swift. The software-based scale-out storage is designed for use with commodity hardware. The SwiftStack Controller automates configuration, expansion and failure handling of private cloud storage, and provides management and monitoring capabilities.

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Not certain the editors that make these choices talk with customer, but I have spoken to many this past quarter. Condusiv Technologies V-locity product greatly improves performance, but does so at 1/10 the cost of competitive hardware solutions. My CIO client's greatly appreciate that piece of the pie returned to their capx budget.