Symantec Corp. is beefing up its storage resource management software by enhancing visibility for solid-state drives (SSDs), strengthening its thin provisioning capabilities, adding integration with Microsoft Corp.'s Hyper-V and improving application recovery in the Veritas Cluster File System.
The enhancements to Veritas Storage Foundation, Cluster File System and Cluster File Server are included in Version 5.1 of its Veritas Storage Foundation platform for Unix, Linux and Microsoft Windows.
Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), said none of the individual improvements are big news, but taken together the release "adds some nice capabilities to an already fairly comprehensive suite of storage management and high-availability offerings."
Better storage tiering for SSDs
Symantec is tackling intelligent storage tiering capabilities for SSDs, something data storage administrators have been waiting for before taking the leap into solid state in storage arrays, and other vendors are scrambling to deliver. EMC Corp. has pledged to deliver the first version of its Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) software by the end of the year, and IBM is working on developing intelligent management software for solid-state drives across its storage and server product lines.
Prior to today's release, Veritas Storage Foundation could recognize Fibre Channel (FC), iSCSI or SATA data storage tiers, but couldn't recognize SSD resources on storage arrays or servers.
Sean Derrington, Symantec's director of storage and availability management group, said Veritas Storage Foundation can now automatically discover any SSD device and automatically move data on and off solid-state drive devices based on administrator-created policies.
"Administrators can identify storage array volumes that are solid state and those that are mechanical," Derrington said. "There's a lot of things you can do once you understand the multipathing, file system and volume management layer."
Derrington said Veritas Storage Foundation's dynamic storage tiering technology will place data where it is most cost-effective. High I/O-dependent data such as database, email and online-processed transactions can be kept on SSDs, while less-accessed data such as database log entries can be moved to lower-cost resources.
For now, Veritas Storage Foundation's improved solid-state drive visibility works only on Unix and Linux systems. Still, ESG's Laliberte said the increased SSD visibility is a welcome improvement. "It enables organizations to better utilize enterprise Flash, and use it over a wider range of applications because it automates some of that technology," he said.
Veritas Storage Foundation moves data to appropriate tiers but doesn't change the data's namespace. "That means that your applications and databases don't have to be re-written," Symantec's Derrington said. "It also means that your backup and recovery policies don't have to change and, perhaps most importantly, the end users don't know that anything changed, but you've put the appropriate file on the appropriate tier of storage."
Making thin provisioning slimmer
Symantec expanded Veritas' Thin Reclamation API, which helps organizations using thin provisioning to keep its volumes thin over time.
Customers with storage systems that support thin provisioning can now use Veritas Storage Foundation's SmartMove and Veritas Volume Replicator to enable thick to thin migration over distance. 3PAR and IBM have announced support for the Thin Reclamation API, and Derrington said Hitachi Data Systems and other major storage vendors are adding support for the API.
"Veritas Storage Foundation doesn't provide thin provisioning; we just make hardware-based thin provisioning work better," Derrington said.
"There's a lot of software that will go out and tell you here's the data you have and here's the data that can be reclaimed, but most often nothing goes and reclaims the data because it's too hard," ESG's Laliberte said.
Souping up Microsoft Hyper-V
Symantec also revealed greater integration with Microsoft Hyper-V to allow customers to dynamically grow and shrink volumes while adding snapshot and replication capabilities for virtual machines.
Veritas Storage Foundation added host-level data protection for every child partition on Hyper-V; this means users can snapshot an entire child partition, while Veritas Volume Replicator can replicate any single virtual machine or all virtual machines.
"Because we're in the parent, that gives us advanced visibility into how that information is managed," Symantec's Derrington said. "Dynamic multipathing is natively integrated, and we're able to do all of the same things with load balancing and failover, and increase visibility into thin volumes and thin-reclaimable volumes."
Veritas also improved its Cluster File System by granting both the active and passive cluster servers concurrent read/write data access. This means that failover recovery only requires an application restart to reconnect clients instead of importing disk groups and mounting file systems.
All of the Veritas Storage Foundation enhancements are available today as downloads for existing Veritas Storage Foundation and Cluster File System maintenance customers.