DataCore adds scale to SANsymphony-V storage virtualization software

Buoyed by talk of software-defined storage, DataCore gives SANsymphony-V greater enterprise features and doubles the number of nodes supported.

DataCore Software Corp. today upgraded its SANsymphony-V storage virtualization software, doubling its scalability and adding self-healing and high-availability features to the platform, which the vendor bills as a more mature and complete alternative to EMC Corp.'s ViPR.

SANsymphony-V brings storage features such as caching, thin provisioning, auto tiering, replication, mirroring and snapshots across different types of storage hardware. It treats storage across hardware platforms as one pool. DataCore began calling its software a storage hypervisor and then software-defined storage long before EMC introduced its ViPR platform earlier this year.

The biggest change with SANsymphony-V 9.0.4 is it scales to 16 nodes instead of the previous eight-node limit. That could bring DataCore into more enterprise implementations.

"Historically, the knock on DataCore has been that it only scales to a point, so this is a big deal," said Jim Bagley, senior analyst at Austin, Texas-based SSG-NOW.

The self-healing capability uses synchronous mirroring of data between nodes to detect nodes that have failed or that have been taken out of service. SANsymphony-V then migrates data on those nodes to other hardware without disrupting applications. Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing at DataCore, said this feature was added mostly for solid-state drives "that have a higher propensity to flake out on you" than RAID-protected hard disk drives.

The new version can also move virtual disks non-disruptively between storage pools. This allows virtual volumes from a test/development pool to be relocated to a production pool without disrupting access to applications. SANsymphony-V's remote replication now will automatically sync the data on two sites if they get out of sync, and its audit logs will record time stamps of each administrative action that can help troubleshoot problems on the SAN.

According to Gonzalez, what has changed the most is awareness of SANsymphony-V. He said DataCore's message was often lost in the wilderness until EMC decided to push software-defined storage and the idea of storage management that works across varied hardware platforms.

"ViPR has put a whole different perspective on what we do and the kinds of people interested in what we do," Gonzalez said. "Our value proposition from the beginning was to provide a uniform platform to control storage devices. That was a hard value to push when storage hardware guys were saying, 'Do this as a hardware function; the function exists just for this device and each device brings its own piece of intelligence.'"

Gonzalez said DataCore has seen a spike in customer interest since EMC began talking about ViPR in May. He said ViPR represents a flip-flop for EMC, which used to position storage as hardware-centric and siloed. "Now they say, 'Why not just plug in this uniform software and plug in the right hardware for the job?'" he said.

DataCore has been saying that for years and has been selling to EMC customers, as well as customers of other large storage vendors. Gonzalez said SANsymphony-V is used mostly by companies that are heavily virtualized and run more than one type of storage hardware.

With ViPR on the market, EMC becomes a competitor to DataCore while also helping to highlight SANsymphony-V's value.

"All the buzz about the advantages of software-defined storage and the goodness that it brings helps DataCore," SSG-NOW's Bagley said. "The primary difference is EMC is all about pushing its own hardware, and DataCore is device-agnostic."

SANsymphony-V pricing is based on the number of nodes and the disk space managed by DataCore on those nodes. The firm's Gonzalez said list price starts at less than $10,000 for two x86 server nodes with synchronous mirroring.

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