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EMC and VMware perform virtualization upgrade together

ESX Server and Invista get tuned

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EMC and wealthy chum VMware celebrated the glories of virtualization together this week. We'll start with Vmware, since it's the virtualization darling but do promise that EMC has some new virtual tweaks of its own to flog.

A couple of months ago, we told you about VMware's planned release of ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5. Well, the software is here now in all of its upgraded glory.

According to Vmware, "The release provides new capabilities for increased levels of automation, improved overall infrastructure availability and higher performance for mission critical workloads."

Helpful, ey?

As mentioned before, most customers will likely find the introduction of Storage Vmotion the most intriguing bit of the upgrade. This software mimics the server flavor of Vmotion by letting users shuffle virtual machine disk files between storage boxes.

You'll find the other major goodies such as improved I/O performance, support for large memory pages and a Distributed Power Management package described in the previous story.

The Foundation version of Infrastructure 3 starts at $995 per 2 processors, while the Enterprise version hits $5,750 per 2 processors.

Big Papa EMC has concentrated on improving its storage area network (SAN) virtualization software known as Invista.

The Invista code goes head-to-head against Hitachi's TagmaStore and IBM's SAN Volume Controller block file shuffling products and is meant to run in conjunction with EMC hardware and fancy switches from Brocade and Cisco.

Taking care of its own, EMC has certified the fresh helping of Invista to work with VMware's ESX Server 3.0.2. If the companies were a bit better organized, EMC might have met the very latest ESX Server release, but there's all that enterprise-level testing that needs to be done with SAN products, so we'll forgive the lack of press statement synchronization.

Flexing more muscle, EMC has issued a control path cluster (CPC) option to Invista, which will let customers tie numerous Invista boxes to other data center hardware at "campus distances" or 500ish meters in humanspeak. The cluster lingo also points to an Invista box's ability to take on the jobs of a failed unit.

Virtual volume support for Invista systems has doubled as well, hitting 8,000 volumes.

As if all that weren't enough, you can expect some serious pooling improvements as well. Pooling? Yes, EMC went there, letting customers create their very own pools of hardware that can – get this – be arranged in tiers. "Customers can then map their most critical applications to their best-performing tier-1 storage, while tier-2 storage can be tasked with supporting development and non-critical applications. Mirrored copies can also now be placed across different tiers. Both of these functions enable greater utilization across all virtualized storage assets," EMC said.

On the old support matrix front, EMC has added IBM's DS4000 systems and HPPVLinks and Sun MpxIO software.

According to Byte and Switch, which has a gripping piece on all this insanity, EMC has tweaked the pricing for Invista 2.0 in a potentially meaningful way.

EMC also overhauled its pricing for the SAN virtualization solution today. Entry-level pricing for Invista 2, which is available now, starts at $100,000 for 10 Tbytes of storage, compared to Invista version 1, which had a flat price of $250,000 for 100 Tbytes or less.

By way of comparison, pricing for IBM's SVC starts at around $50,000, although the vendor is planning an upgrade of its own, according to Chris Saul, the firm's marketing manager for storage virtualization. "The industry is moving on and adding additional capabilities," he says, explaining that IBM will add thin provisioning to SVC in mid-2008.

If you wanted all of this spectacular, virtualized goodness now, you're not in immediate luck. EMC has shipped Version 2.0 of Invista, although Version 2.1 with heterogeneous mirroring and storage pooling won't arrive until later this month. And support for Vmware's 3.0.2 flavor of ESX Server is also expected "before the end of this year." ®

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