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Sanbolic expands Melio virtual clustered file system

Sanbolic broadens its hypervisor support with version 3.5 of its Melio 3.5 virtual clustered file system for volume management.

Sanbolic this week released its Melio 3.5 virtual clustered file system software and volume management suite designed to decouple applications from the storage environment to provide servers with better access to shared storage, volumes and LUNs. The new version supports a wider range of hypervisors and improved availability features.

Melio serves as a clustered volume manager and performs other storage management features to help storage connect to applications more efficiently across virtual or physical servers. The previous version supported only Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor, adding features such as concurrent access to a single LUN.  With Melio 3.5, Sanbolic added support for VMware, Xen and Kernal-based Virtual Machine (KVM) for Linux servers. Melio 3.5 also has been enhanced to support Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI) for Citrix XEN desktops for better storage utilization. The new version of the software also has improved OS support for faster failover.

“We are bringing the next level of virtualization workload, agility and flexibility,” Sanbolic CEO Momchil Michailov said. “Melio is bringing cloud capability to storage and user data so it can scale and migrate loads. We are hardware agnostic. Our product is a layer between the hardware and the data. We remove the binding between the LUNs’ disks and volumes. We can have multiple servers connected to one volume and have real-time access to all the data on all the servers.”

Terri McClure, analyst for Enterprise Storage Group, said Melio 3.5 helps storage deal with changes in the environment caused by server virtualization. Before server virtualization, servers and applications were tightly mapped to LUNs. With server virtualization, applications can move between virtual machines and this changes the way storage and servers interact.

“What is happening is this is exposing the weaknesses in the storage infrastructure, because we expect it to do things it was not designed to do, such as dealing with the dynamic changes as applications play hide and seek in virtual environments,” McClure said.

 “It’s hard to characterize this because it does virtual storage, but it exists closer to the application server level so it’s best to call it a virtual file cluster. It’s virtual storage but it’s high up the stack.”

This capability that Melio provides exists in high-end disk arrays but Sanbolic is bringing this ability to commodity hardware. Michailov says Sanbolic has between 500 and 600 customers.

Melio is not only for virtual server environments. Advocates, Inc., a Framingham, Mass.-based human services organization, uses Melio 3.5 software in a physical configuration in which two email servers are connected to one volume, said Greg Owens, Advocates’ network administrator.

“We had a project where we were upgrading our email servers. We have two physical servers connected to a shared storage with a clustered file system,” he said. “Melio gave us the ability to enable both servers to see the clustered file system as a local disk as far as the I/O is concerned. It works as a file system on top of the storage rather than having storage formatted with [Windows’] NTFS.”

Owens said without Melio it would have been difficult and more costly to have both servers access the same volume on the disk. “We would have had to set up real-time snapshots that required double the amount of storage,” Owens said.  “It basically allowed us to implement a high-end email solution using half the amount of storage. We can have multiple servers connected to one volume and have real-time access to all the data on the server.”

Sanbolic sells Melio as a suite that includes three products: Melio Private Cloud, Melio Enterprise and Melio VDI.  The suite previously had a Melio Virtualization product, but that was rolled into the Private Cloud version.

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