The A-to-Z of VMware suitors
Why virtually all storage vendors are so keen
Every storage player wants to be a good citizen in the VMware virtual data centre and server world. They showed up to VMworld to be seen and counted, and to demonstrate that they too can play nice in what is increasingly looking to be an EMC-owned data centre and server interface to all things networking and storage.
Where is the storage vendor that isn't playing nice with VMware?
In alphabetic order, some of the storage suitors are:
Brocade says it can deliver VM app-aware storage quality of service because it is tying in its HBAs and switches to VMware.
Its DCFM 10.3 fabric manager has been optimised for VMWare and server virtualisation. SAN administrators are able to view virtual machines (VMs) running inside physical servers and have the ability to view VM properties end-to-end, from the server to storage via Brocade HBAs and switches.
There is a management "plug-in" for VMware vCenter that will supply metrics and alerts through VMware vSphere. This will help VMware administrators troubleshoot issues pertaining to the fabric.
The combination of Brocade DCFM 10.3 and the VMware management plug-in will be able to trigger a dynamic vMotion if a critical alert occurs in the SAN and provide a set of recommendations on resolving the issue.
The idea is that VMS and SANs can "see" one another according to Brocade, and so operate more efficiently.
Brocade is also introducing Server Application Optimisation (SAO) for Brocade FC adapters and switches through the newest release of the Brocade Fabric Operating System (release 6.2). This introduces the concept of "application-aware" Quality of Service (QoS), which helps preserve service level agreements and improves performance-under-load for mission-critical applications running on VMs.
Brocade says: "Through SAO, server administrators will also have access to application-level performance monitoring, statistics and diagnostics. By being able to isolate and prioritise traffic according to the needs of a particular VM/application, server administrators will be able to enable heterogeneous VM/applications to share a single HBA and to manage more VMs per physical server."
Brocade DCFM 10.3 is expected to be available in September from Brocade OEMs and resellers. The Brocade management "plug-in" for VMware is in early development phase and is expected to be available in mid-2010 - a relatively long way away then. Brocade SAO is available today as a license to Brocade FC switches when used in conjunction with Brocade HBAs.
EMC has announced an expanded business and technology alliance with VMware. It is now a fully-authorised reseller of VMware vCenter AppSpeed. This, along with EMC's virtualisation services, will be offered through EMC Select as part of EMC's Ionix portfolio, enabling customers to have management capabilities across their physical and virtual IT infrastructures.
EMC and VMware are also partnering to provide new services designed to rapidly identify and migrate (physical to virtual) tier-one applications.
FalconStor is introducing storage management and new disaster recovery (DR) extensions for VMware vCenter Server and Site Recovery Manager that provide virtual machine storage provisioning as well as automated failback of remote virtual machines to the primary data center. FalconStor is also demonstrating its new File-interface Deduplication System Virtual Appliance (FDS VA) for easy-to-deploy data dedupe for VMware vSphere 4 environments.
FalconStor's Network Storage Server (NSS) extends Site Recovery Manager functionality across the data centre by adding support for physical-to-virtual machine failover. It claims that this unique implementation dramatically speeds site-level failover and reduces DR costs.
Its Failback Manager for Site Recovery Manager lets vSphere 4 users automate the failback process to the primary data centre in a single step once the restoration of data center services are complete.
These new features complement FalconStor's Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) for Site Recovery Manager, which integrates FalconStor's replication capability with Site Recovery Manager.
FalconStor says it enables backup optimisation by completely eliminating the backup window and offloading backup operations from VMware production environments.
Its Storage Manager for vCenterServer is a plug-in tool with which users can create virtual machines with data stores allocated from storage managed by FalconStor software within the vCenter management client. It also enables users' access to features such as virtual machine replication, thin provisioning, and storage migration.
With the introduction of the FDS VA, FalconStor now offers its entire storage solution portfolio as a virtual appliance that runs on ESX and ESXi, including its Virtual Tape Library (VTL), Continuous Data Protector (CDP), and NSS. FalconStor says these virtual appliances "support VMDirectPath I/O from VMware to provide high-performance storage access that increases the throughput of FalconStor NSS VA running on the VMware platform by tenfold."
FDS VA includes a NAS interface, allowing native backup tools provided by Microsoft Windows Server 2008, SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, and Oracle Database to send disk-based backup files to FDS VA for deduplication. No modifications to VMware virtual machine guest operating systems or applications are required.
Its IQ arrays are VMware-certified, and it says its scale-out NAS arrays are far easier to manage than block-access storage with LUNS, etc. The IQ Series is also much easier to use than NetApp storage, with Isilon quoting a customer as saying: "NetApp was a management nightmare. We had to redesign our product to support multiple NAS locations, and we still had fragmentation problems. We were constantly moving data from filer A to filer B and back again. With Isilon, we are able to scale one large volume.”
With the launch of ONTAP 8, Isilon is pretty firmly focussed on NetApp as its main competition.
Isilon's sales VP in Europe, Mark Stevens, says that iSCSI storage access is under review at Isilon and also says that the firm isn't ready to talk about solid state storage yet.
NetApp has announced a $1 Million Virtualization Challenge  contest to award NetApp storage hardware, software, and services to a qualifying new customer to reduce the company's storage usage by 50 per cent in a VMware environment.
NetApp guarantees customers that they will use 50 per cent less storage in their virtual environments with NetApp compared to traditional storage. It is now taking the guarantee a step further by offering up to $1 million of NetApp technology and services to a new NetApp customer to further prove NetApp's efficiency in VMware environments. An independent third party will benchmark and measure this.
NetApp has also announced Virtual Storage Console, another plug-in for vCenterServer that enables IT administrators to manage and monitor NetApp storage in vSphere 4 environments.
SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure integrates with VMware environments and automates data protection polices for NetApp Snapshot and SnapMirror features. Customers get virtual machine backup and recovery and can reduce backup time using NetApp Snapshot. Additionally, customers can instantly recover a datastore, virtual machine, virtual machine disk, or an individual file within a virtual guest.
Rapid Cloning Utility is a vCenter plug-in that simplifies the way administrators clone VMware virtual machines and datastores. In conjunction with NetApp FlexClone, a single image can be replicated hundreds of times in minutes while using almost no additional storage capacity.
Neverfail 6.0 integrates local high availability and remote disaster recovery, across any combination of physical, virtual, and cloud-based servers. The company says it is the only solution that keeps users working even when multiple software applications go down.
It include Neverfail Tertiary, which enables a trio of servers to be configured to ensure that local server failures as well as site-wide issues, such as floods, hurricanes, or power outages, will not bring the business down. It's roughly like a sort pf RAID 6 approach since users are protected against two server failures.
Neverfail WANSmart adds deduplication, Neverfail's own, to the replication of Neverfail data from one site to another. The company claims as much as 30 times reduction in bandwidth can be achieved, avoiding costly network upgrades and the use of special WAN acceleration hardware.
Neverfail is also announcing vAppHA, which continuously monitors and analyzes the health and state of Tier-1 applications running within virtual machines. If it detects availability or performance issues with applications, such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server databases, it uses vSphere application programming interfaces (APIs) to restart the virtual machine or migrate it to a different host using VMotion.
It automatically works with vSphere to switch application services over to other servers to avoid application downtime when an application failure or outage is detected.
Neverfail vAppHA will be available in Q4 2009.
Promise Technology says its VessRAID series storage system is now commercially available in the Americas and is VMware-Certified.
VessRAID is for small and medium businesses and has power-saving and manageability features. GreenRAID is an array spin-down feature which allows the system to power-on from standby mode to run user-scheduled tasks such as backups and archives.
As the task completes, the system goes into standby until the next scheduled task. Promise promises annual cost savings of up to 70 per cent over competitive solutions.
A One-Plug-Auto-Service (OPAS) reduces the time spent on conventional administration tasks. By plugging in a supported USB flash drive into VessRAID’s USB port, users can automatically download system service reports, as well as perform advanced functions like firmware upgrades and configuration script installation - a natty feature.
The Promise VessRAID series is currently available through distribution and pricing starts at $2,099 for an 8-bay system and ranges to $3,099 for a 16-bay system. A fully-populated 16-bay subsystem costs less than 26 cents/GB, using enterprise-class, 7200 RPM, 2TB hard disk drives.
Symantec has achieved VMware Ready Data Protection status, with successful integration of Backup Exec, NetBackup and NetBackup PureDisk with VMware vSphere 4. It says Backup Exec and NetBackup speed the backup and recovery of information stored on virtual machines. Its software technology enables Backup Exec and NetBackup to leverage a single pass image backup of a guest virtual machine "in order to store backup information once and recover anything - including the entire virtual machine, individual virtual disk files, as well as individual files and folders inside virtual disk files."
This, Symantec says, is a unique capability and results in up to a 50 per cent reduct technology, currently in NetBackup and scheduled to be available in Backup Exec later this year. ®