HP rolls out split-path storage virtualization

HP offers block storage virtualization for its midrange EVA and MSA disk arrays through IP from LSI's Storage Virtualization Manager (SVM) software.

Hewlett-Packard added multi-array storage virtualization to its midrange lineup today with the introduction of the HP StorageWorks SAN Virtualization Services Platform (SVSP), based on a partnership with LSI Corp.

SVSP is a split-path switch-based virtualization platform, which has been modified slightly from LSI's Storage Virtualization Manager (SVM). SVSP allows customers to manage storage across HP EVA and non-HP arrays, providing features such as thin provisioning, synchronous and asynchronous replication, and online data migration.

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HP has given SVM a new interface that matches that of the EVA array, HP StorageWorks R&D manager Tom Rallens said. Much of the difference is in terminology. For instance, HP refers to local replication as "Business Copy" and remote replication as "Continuous Access," but the replication capabilities come from LSI.

HP calls the QLogic switch that comprises part of the SVSP architecture a "Data Path Mover" as opposed to LSI's "Data Path Module" tag. Like SVM, HP's product consists of a management server separate from the switch (hence the split path architecture), which Rallens said provides the most scalable approach to storage virtualization.

SVSP supports any version of HP EVA. SVSP also supports storage on HP's MSA; EMC Clariion versions from CX 200 to CX 3-80s; IBM's FasT and DS4000 lines; Sun Microsystems' FlexLine and 6000 lines; and SGI's TP 9300, 9500, 9700, 4000 and 4500 systems.

To install SVSP, a user would re-present the underlying array's LUNs to the SVSP, importing them into the SVSP management framework. Those LUNS could then be provisioned—with support for thin provisioning—for hosts in the SVSP console. HP offers the option to attach servers directly to EVA LUNs without the SVSP in the middle. Customers can also attach the same array to the SVSP and directly to hosts.

Thin provisioning on such a broad scale is new for HP's midrange line, although the EVA supports Microsoft Windows Server 2008's Virtual Disk Service (VDS) that allows for the growth and shrinking of volumes according to application demand.

"The quickest takeoff advantage with this product will be for users that already know how to manage an EVA," said IDC analyst Rick Villars, adding that this move shows that "there's a big core of customers in the EVA install base who aren't moving away from Fibre Channel any time soon, but they want capabilities like the ones HP acquired with [iSCSI SAN vendor] LeftHand on a broader scale."

HP's XP enterprise arrays have virtualization capabilities built into the controller that pools storage across other vendors' systems. SVSP is similar to EMC's Invista and Incipient's Network Storage Platform switch-based virtualization software, and also competes with IBM's network-based SAN Volume Controller (SVC).

Switch-based virtualization hasn't caught in on in great numbers, but Villars says organizations may take another look at it because of the popularity of server virtualization.

"For a while, it's been sitting on the sidelines—people didn't clearly understand what the value and benefits are [for storage virtualization]," he said. "But this [launch from HP] is a sign that in some ways the reach of server virtualization's impact on the overall IT environment is growing. Customers see the gains they get from virtualizing servers and are looking at where else they can get it in their environments."


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