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DataCore - The Switzerland of Storage Virtualization Solutions Providers?

Storage managers are often pressured to buy storage from a single vendor. That, in turn, leads to being pinned down to a particular vendor’s virtualization management solution.

I hate having my options limited. I want to pick best-of-breed hardware and solution. Mix-and-match is my motto. When it comes to storage virtualization software, DataCore seems to share my values. It’s new SANsymphony-V dynamically relocates workloads across pools of any type of storage equipment -- including SSDs -- and from any vendor. Because it sits high-enough up on the interface ladder, DataCore’s director of product marketing Augie Gonzalez told me, any new storage device you add can work instantly with SANsymphony -- no updates needed.

“We apply the same device-independent approach to auto-tiering as we do with all our high-value services, including thin provisioning, caching, synchronous mirroring, asynchronous replication, snapshots and CDP. Let’s just say it arms you with a lot more bargaining muscle when the next disk hardware purchase comes around.”

DataCore’s President and CEO, George Teixeira, told me recently that his company’s product neutrality is what gives IT the greatest flexibility to move seldom-used sections of files to a slower tier of storage (read: cheaper disk) and most-in-demand or most-important sections to more expensive (read: faster) storage devices. Although the product’s chief benefit is that it handles all the messy details in the background automatically, there are rules (“policies”) you can define to override its decisions (for example, you can exclude some workloads from auto-tiering). Furthermore, if you no longer have enough capacity in a tier to to meet your requirements, it will tell you so.

The approach has two advantages -- both economic -- and both explained succinctly in their press release: “This expanded choice gives customers the opportunity to shop for the best value at each tier from competing sources without having to discard what they purchased last year.” Keeping legacy equipment alive is critical -- so is shopping for the best deal on new equipment.

Hardware-based approaches restrict tiers “to premium-priced trays within a single storage enclosure or frame, DataCore says. Its infrastructure-wide software “spans multiple storage systems from potentially different suppliers.”

Flexibility is paramount. Tiers can be made up of high-capacity but lower-priced SATA drives from Company A (or Company A and B and C) or consist of multiple SAS midrange disk systems from the same or different vendors. You can mix and match capacity, technology, and manufacturers in the same tier -- it all appears as a pool from your control panel. SSDs, which cost up to 10 times more than conventional drives, are likewise supported in a tier.

The company says that more than 50 percent of stored data turns to “inactive” status within just 60 days of its creation. If you’re using high-priced storage for it, you’re wasting precious IT budget dollars.

In its press release, the company says its customers “have reported up to 60 percent cost savings with SANsymphony-V alone, and now with the ability to automate and dynamically optimize tiered storage capacity, incremental savings of 20 percent or more are now possible. The final result is an extremely cost effecting, self-tuning system.” Not to mention one that doesn’t pin you down.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 07/29/2011

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