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IBM releases fifth version of SVC

Jo Maitland, News Director

IBM has announced the fifth release of its storage virtualization software, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), which it claims can now manage all of EMC's storage systems.

The announcement comes at least six months ahead of EMC Corp.'s Storage Router virtualization product, due sometime in the first half of 2005. With the latest release, SVC adds the Clariion CX series, including the CX300, CX500 and CX700 disk arrays, to the list of hardware it can support. Since its launch almost two years ago, IBM has announced support for Hitachi Data Systems and Hewlett-Packard Co. arrays.

"Our focus is to go after EMC. Now we have complete support of their entire line before they have delivered any storage virtualization to customers," said Ron Riffe, storage strategist at IBM.

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The latest version of SVC supports the SNIA's Conformance Testing Program for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). This means users can pick management tools from other vendors that support SMI-S and view SVC through this tool.

In addition to supporting SMI-S, IBM has re-recorded its SPC-1 benchmark using caching enhancements in the software, and has been able to top 100,000 IOPS (input/output per second). "With more efficient caching algorithms, we can keep more relevant data in cache, speeding up performance," Riffe said. This doubles the previous virtualization performance record of 50,003 IOPS set by DataCore Software Inc.'s SANsymphony.

EMC retort

"It makes perfect sense for IBM to support Clariion, the industry's leading mid-tier networked storage system," quipped Dave Farmer, a spokesman for EMC. "That said, SVC is still an in-band appliance with all the inherent performance, scalability, data integrity and functionality disadvantages."

Farmer argues that EMC's Storage Router is less costly to maintain because it does not require the installation of standalone devices at multiple points in the SAN (like IBM's SVC). Nor does it require the purchase of a master storage array to handle the in-band virtualization and data movement functionality (like the HDS TagmaStore), he said.

Analysts noted that IBM has around 800 implementations of SVC and the product is stable. "This counts for more than EMC's talk," said Tony Asaro, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

City of Saskatoon installs SVC

Peter Farquharson, manager of technology integration for the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada, is an IBM shop and therefore doesn't have the need for multi-vendor integration. He is using the product to reallocate drives on the fly between a Shark and 3526 (the predecessor to the FAStT). "SVC gives us the flexibility to move volumes around independently of the disk, and we only need one driver instead of separate ones for the Shark and 3526," he said.

SAN Volume Controller is available today through IBM and IBM resellers for a list price of $60,000.


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