Symantec's bumper bonus bells and whistles
Veritas Storage Foundation adds lightness
Symantec has boosted its Storage Foundation product to store less duplicate data, integrate with Hyper-V and use solid state storage better. It has also added failover to its Cluster File System
Veritas Storage Foundation (VSF) runs on servers and manages storage arrays, provisioning storage capacity and volumes, for applications and so forth. Symantec has added a Smart Move and a Thin Reclaimation API to VSF. The Smart Move feature comes into play when written or allocated file system storage capacity is migrated from one device to another. This usually involves a block-level copy and the blocks are copied blind, with no allowance for whether they contain data or not.
Smart Move looks at the file system being moved and does not copy blocks in deleted files. The actual migrated file system can therefore be a lot smaller than the source filesystem, depending on the number of deleted files. Smart Move works over long distance with Veritas Volume Replicator as well as across LAN distances.
Thin Reclaimation API
Symantec's Thin Reclamation API is turning into a quiet triumph. 3PAR was first off the block supporting it, followed by IBM. The idea is that the file system running in the application server tells the array that certain blocks in a volume allocated to the file system have been deleted. The array controller can then reclaim them from the volume and return them to the general storage pool, where they can be used instead of being wasted.
The API was developed by Symantec with help from 3PAR and HDS. Sean Derrinton, Symantec's director for storage management and high availability, said every storage array vendor is working to support this API. In this case, that means Compellent, Dell/EqualLogic, EMC, HDS, NetApp, Pillar, Xiotech and others. It means Symantec's Veritas Storage Foundation is heterogeneous and can turn thick volumes into thin volumes. No other storage management or storage resource management (SRM) product can do this. Array controllers cannot do it because they don't have visibility into the filesystems involved - they are too low down the stack.
Sun's ZFS product could do it if the developers wished, because it is a file system. So could global file system products from Isilon and DataDirect and others, as well as clustered parallel file systems for high-performance computing applications. The space reclamation idea is in tune with storage efficiency ideas and it is possible that all file systems dealing with networked storage will have to take the concept on board.
SSD support and Hyper-V
Symentec has added solid state drive (SSD) support to its Dynamic Storage Tiering (DST) feature. This moves older, less frequently-accessed data from high-speed tier 1 disk onto capacity-optimised and less expensive tier 2 SATA disk. Now DST supports SSD as tier 0 storage and will put hot, high access rate data, onto SSDs. The company claims "file movement is transparent to users, applications, databases, data protection, and scripts," and can span storage devices from different vendors because it is not storage-array dependent.
In fact Symantec claims: "Storage Foundation is the only storage management solution that can automatically discover SSD devices from leading array and server vendors and optimize data placement on SSD devices transparently." Heterogeneity rules here too.
What Symantec is doing is putting an SRM layer in servers, where it runs between the applications in the servers and the storage arrays, and provides its facilities across heterogeneous storage arrays.
For Hyper-V, VSF runs in the Hyper-V parent partition and helps provide storage resources for applications running in Hyper V virtual machines: child partitions in Hyper-V terminology. Storage volumes can be dynamically changed in size online. Snapshots can be taken of an entire child partition, including the system and boot areas as well as the application data. Veritas Dynamic Multipathing improves storage availability and Veritas Volume Replicator can replicate just one virtual machine or the entire set.
Symantec has also added failover to its Cluster File System, saying: "near instantaneous recovery of applications is now possible with Veritas Cluster File System through tight integration with Oracle, Sybase and IBM DB2." The applications run in servers under Veritas Cluster Server and the active and stand-by servers are connected by Veritas Cluster File System. When a server fails, the application running it is restarted in the second server and users see near-continuous operation, despite the server failure.
Lastly, Symantec is offering a Storage Assessment Service, which it claims will help customers use existing storage better and get the best use out of new storage technology.
We might take the view that VMware and EMC are trying to squeeze Symantec's storage resource and cluster products out of their customer base. We could see from today's announcement that Symantec aims to help Hyper-V better compete with VMware in the storage resource management space.
With both virtualisation platforms, Symantec is improving its Storage Foundation product to work better across different suppliers' storage arrays, and the industry adoption of its Thin Reclaimation API, if it comes to pass, gives a good indication of Symantec's popularity in the SRM space. ®