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DataCore repackages storage for invisible data replication

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DataCore has introduced two sub-£5000 disaster recovery and business continuity software packages for small and mid-sized businesses. They're based on the company's existing storage virtualisation software, and let you mirror data between two sets of storage via an IP network, even over long distances.

"The reason people like products such as EMC's SRDF is that they have multiple operating systems and it protects everything," said George Teixeira, DataCore's president & CEO. "Ours is the same - it serves any O/S and any number of virtual or physical servers. The difference is you don't need a $100,000 SAN behind it."

The packages combine DataCore's virtual infrastructure foundation (VIF) software, which includes thin provisioning, data migration, iSCSI and the ability to virtualise up to 3TB of disk per controller (so 6TB overall), with fail-over mirroring and long-distance replication.

They create a pool of virtual storage, and then replicate data either synchronously (for local mirroring) or asynchronously (for mirroring over a WAN) within that pool. The replication is transparent to the servers, so applications simply see a single set of data and server-level clustering schemes can use it just like a standard disk array or storage subsystem.

It still requires two PCs to use as the mirrored storage controllers, of course, plus fail-over software on the application servers. But the storage used can be any type of disk subsystem - it is virtualised, so there is no need to have the same array in both the primary and secondary locations.

"It's no different to running two sets of servers off a single HP EVA array, say," said Teixeira. "At the application level, it looks the same as it would using any disk system today. Application fail-over is at the application level - it assumes the data is still there or is mirrored."

Teixeira hopes that a big driver for the new DataCore packages will be the increasing adoption of virtual machine (VM) and virtual server technology, as they should simplify the task of protecting data and reconstructing failed VMs.

"We've seen huge growth in the whole VM space," he said. "Software such as VMware puts all its eggs in one basket, so you need to put high-availability storage behind it - we give you the software to create an IP SAN with fail-over for $7998 [about £4000], plus $2000 for a year's support."

He added that thin provisioning - where the storage controller allocates a logical disk capacity but only adds real capacity as it is actually needed, so if a 50GB volume only contains 5GB of data, it only takes up 5GB on disk - has a big role in the VM space as well.

"We put thin provisioning into these packages because we learnt that virtual system images reserve a lot of space, but it's space you're not actually using," he said. "We found that with this, our 3TB is worth maybe 10TB from someone else."

Other companies working with storage virtualisation and replication include FalconStor and Softek.

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