Buying Guide

Storage virtualization software specifications

Storage virtualization software has emerged as a significant tool in storage management, allowing administrators to pool storage resources. Pooled resources can then be organized, allocated, and managed without regard for their physical location. Storage virtualization software

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offers relative convenience and ease of deployment, though it typically relies on the availability of host servers or intelligent switches. The product snapshots in this chapter highlight key specifications for a cross-section of popular storage virtualization software products. The following products were selected based on input from industry analysts and SearchStorage editors, and specifications are current as of November 2006.

The following specifications have been provided by vendors and are periodically updated. Vendors are welcome to submit their updates and new product specifications to Matt Perkins.

Go to the first product snapshot, or select the desired product below:

  • DataCore Software Corp.; SANmelody software
  • DataCore Software Corp.; SANsymphony software
  • EMC Corp.; Invista software
  • FalconStor Software; IPStor software
  • IBM; TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
  • Incipient Inc.; Network Storage Platform (iNSP)
  • LeftHand Networks Inc.; SAN iQ software
  • Symantec Corp.; Veritas Storage Foundation
  • VMware Inc.; VMware Infrastructure 3 software suite

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    Product Snapshot #1
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    Product: DataCore Software Corp.; SANmelody software

    Maximum Capacity: 200 TB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: Unlimited
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: Unlimited
    Drive/Storage Support: SCSI, EIDE, Fibre Channel, SATA, etc.
    I/O Caching: Yes (64GB)
    Services Supported: Thin-Provisioning, Virtual Disk Services, SANmotion data migration, Volume Shadow Copy Services, Synchronous Mirroring, Asynchronous IP replication and Multipath I/O
    Maximum Throughput: Unlimited, based on hardware configuration
    Maximum Transactions: 400,000
    Security Features: CHAP and IPsec
    Provisioning Support: Thin-provisioning
    Requirements: Any AMD or Intel based server
    Implementation: Serves storage over Ethernet or FC to Unix, Linux, Windows, Netware, MacOS, Solaris, AIX systems
    Snapshot Support: Yes (all variants and VSS support)
    Reporting and Logging: Performance, Resource Utilization and Alerts
    Vendor Comment: SANmelody supports both iSCSI and FC and makes available auto-provisioning capabilities to permit storage administrators to allocate "massively large"; logical disk volumes that scale from gigabytes to multi-terabytes of storage.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: $1,000 for iSCSI IP SAN virtual storage pooling plus automated thin-provisioning, SANmotion, and I/O caching
    Detailed Specs: http://www.datacoresoftware.com/products/prod_SANmelody_govirtual.asp
    Vendor URL: www.datacoresoftware.com

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    Product Snapshot #2
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    Product: DataCore Software Corp.; SANsymphony software

    Maximum Capacity: Unlimited
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: Unlimited
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: Unlimited
    Drive/Storage Support: SCSI, EIDE, Fibre Channel, SATA, etc.
    I/O Caching: Yes (64GB)
    Services Supported: Thin-Provisioning, Virtual Disk Services, SANmotion data migration, Volume Shadow Copy Services, Synchronous Mirroring, Asynchronous IP replication and Multipath I/O
    Maximum Throughput: Unlimited, based on hardware configuration
    Maximum Transactions: 400,000
    Security Features: CHAP and IPsec
    Provisioning Support: Thin-provisioning
    Requirements: Any AMD or Intel based server
    Implementation: Serves storage over Ethernet or FC to Unix, Linux, Windows, Netware, MacOS, Solaris, AIX systems
    Snapshot Support: Yes (all variants and VSS support)
    Reporting and Logging: Performance, Resource Utilization and Alerts
    Vendor Comment: SANsymphony software is an enterprise-class open storage networking platform that maximizes the value from IT assets and boosts business productivity. SANsymphony doubles effective disk utilization by pooling disk space from multiple devices and automatically allocating just enough capacity, just-in-time to needy applications.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: $25,000
    Detailed Specs: http://www.datacore.com/products/prod_SANsymphony_govirtual.asp
    Vendor URL: www.datacoresoftware.com

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    Product Snapshot #3
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    Product: EMC Corp.; Invista software

    Maximum Capacity: 4 PB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: LUNS can contain any number of disks supported by the array up to a maximum of 2TB. Total number of LUNs per virtual volume is 64.
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 3,750
    Drive/Storage Support: Imports SCSI LUNs provided from attached storage arrays. Connection to attached arrays utilizes fibre channel protocol.
    I/O Caching: No; cache-less architecture
    Services Supported: Supports virtual volume management, multi-path I/O, full copy clones, non-disruptive migrations, etc.
    Maximum Throughput: Maximum throughput per instance is 12GB/sec.
    Maximum Transactions: Maximum IOPS per instance is 2 million
    Security Features: Security consists of four basic functions: authentication, authorization, privacy, and audit.
    Provisioning Support: Provisioning Wizard guides users through the process of creating volumes then placed in the Virtual Frame (a group of one or more volumes which hosts can access).
    Requirements: Please see EMC Enterprise Support Matrix for details on supported configurations.
    Implementation: Invista utilizes intelligent switches and line cards from EMC Connetrix partners to integrate seamlessly into existing fabrics. Dual fabric configurations are supported for high availability in production environments.
    Snapshot Support: Yes; Invista supports full copy clones. EMC RecoverPoint provides Continuous Data Protection for Invista.
    Reporting and Logging: Auditing for security
    Vendor Comment: With EMC Invista high-performance networked storage virtualization, customers can allocate any storage to any application -- when and where it's needed. Invista makes it easy to move data across storage tiers, a key capability for enabling ILM strategies.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Customers should contact EMC
    Detailed Specs: http://www.emc.com/products/software/invista/invista.jsp
    Vendor URL: www.emc.com

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    Product Snapshot #4
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    Product: FalconStor Software; IPStor software

    Maximum Capacity: 2PB per node
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2TB per virtual LUN
    Maximum Disks: A virtual LUN can be made up of 64 segments
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 1,024
    Drive/Storage Support: Fibre Channel, iSCSI, SCSI (and therfore whatever type of drives the associated arrays support)
    I/O Caching: No volatile/memory-based caching; persistent/disk-based cache can be 2TB.
    Services Supported: Virtual disk services, Volume Shadow Copy Services, multipath I/O, mirroring, replication, encryption, compression
    Maximum Throughput: Depends on server
    Maximum Transactions: Depends on server
    Security Features: IPStor includes CHAP and mutual CHAP authentication for iSCSI connected hosts, encryption for data during remote replication, and authenticated access control for administrators.
    Provisioning Support: Yes; provisioning plus "capacity on demand" expansion
    Requirements: No special pre-requisites
    Implementation: In-band or out of band, seamlessly integrated
    Snapshot Support: Up to 256 snapshots per LUN
    Reporting and Logging: Continuous data protection journal provides recovery to any point in time
    Vendor Comment: IPStor provides the full set of virtualization, provisioning, protection, and management services independent of storage vendor or physical attachement type. The storage being virtualized can be heterogeneous, both in attachment type and vendor, without any loss of functionality.
    Availability: Currently available in release 5.1
    Base Cost: $10K-$90K depending on configuration and options
    Detailed Specs: http://www.falconstor.com/en/solutions/?pg=Business&sb=SSC
    Vendor URL: www.falconstor.com

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    Product Snapshot #5
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    Product: IBM; System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC)

    Maximum Capacity: 2 PB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: A single SVC virtual disk (Vdisk) could aggregate capacity from up to 3840 disk drives.
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 4,096
    Drive/Storage Support: Fibre channel disk systems only. Over 80 systems supported from vendors including IBM, HDS, EMC, HP, Sun, STK, Dell, NetApp.
    I/O Caching: Supports 8GB of cache per node. SVC nodes are deployed in pairs for redundancy (so, 16GB per pair) with up to four pairs in a cluster, which operates as a single storage virtualization system (so, up to 64GB of cache per SVC cluster).
    Services Supported: SVC supports multipath I/O through the use of IBM Subsystem Device Driver (SDD) and other multipathing device drivers on a wide variety of server operating systems. SVC supports VSS, GDS, and MPIO in Windows environments, HACMP-XD and VIO in AIX environments, and a variety of clustering software depending on the operating environment.
    Maximum Throughput: A single pair of nodes can support up to approximately 2GB (gigabytes) per second.
    Maximum Transactions: A single pair of nodes can support up to approximately 250,000 I/Os per second.
    Security Features: Users must be logged on to SVC to perform GUI or command line functions. Different users may be permitted to view or change the configuration. Each user has a user ID and password. Connections to SVC use IPSec or SSL.
    Provisioning Support: SVC supports creation, deletion, enlarging, and shrinking of virtual disks.
    Requirements: SVC attaches to SAN fabric switches and directors. Ports on those switches are required to attach SVC (four ports per SVC node). Supported HBAs, operating system levels, and multipathing drivers are necessary on servers. Supported disk systems are also needed.
    Implementation: SVC software is pre-installed by IBM on pre-configured SVC nodes. Implementation involves attaching SVC nodes to switches, installing appropriate multipathing software on servers, adjusting SAN zoning, discovering storage systems, and presenting existing LUNs from storage systems to servers through SVC.
    Snapshot Support: Yes; SVC FlashCopy can be used to take snapshots ("instant copies") of virtual disks.
    Reporting and Logging: SVC logs all operations that change the configuration of the system in an audit log identifying the logged-on user, operation performed, and time and date. The log is designed to be tamper evident.
    Vendor Comment: SVC is recognized as the industry's leading appliance-based storage virtualization system. SVC is a proven system that has been available for over four years and is deployed today in over 2200 customers world-wide.
    Availability: Currently available; version V4.1.1 was announced in June 2006, and has been available since November 17.
    Base Cost: An entry two-node SVC configuration has a list price of approximately $50K. Prices for virtualization, FlashCopy, and Metro Mirror/Global Mirror (remote replication) are dependent on the amount of storage virtualized.
    Detailed Specs: www.ibm.com/storage/svc
    Vendor URL: www.ibm.com

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    Product Snapshot #6
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    Product: Incipient Inc.; Network Storage Platform (iNSP)

    Maximum Capacity: 8 PB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: Unlimited
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 4,000
    Drive/Storage Support: Please refer to product compatibility data for supported disks and storage subsystems.
    I/O Caching: No caching
    Services Supported: Volume Management, Non-Disruptive Data Mobility, Point-in-time Copy Services, high availability fault tolerant implementation with multipath failover.
    Maximum Throughput: 3 GBs/Node (read/write throughput)
    Maximum Transactions: 600,000 IOPs/ node
    Security Features: User authentication and authorization, S-HTTP and SSL for encrypted authenticated IPC, LUN Masking virtual disk access control, VSAN support
    Provisioning Support: Import array volumes with existing data; Export virtual disks to be accessed directly; Partitioning virtual disk smaller than an array volume; Concatenation (aggregation of multiple array volumes); Striping across multiple array volumes; Automated Provisioning based on user defined policies and deep discovery of storage resources and SAN configuration.
    Requirements: Cisco MDS Switch(s) with a minimum of 2 Storage Service Modules (SSM) for high availability; Windows Server to host management software. This server is required to configure and control the environment only -- it is not fundamental to the ongoing operation.
    Implementation: Not provided
    Snapshot Support: Full volume, point-in-time copies with incremental resynch; Multiple copies per source; Source and Copy can be of different storage type and layout.
    Reporting and Logging: Deep discovery of virtualized storage array and SAN configuration; Reports on storage resources, consumption, and how storage is allocated; Filtering capabilities on all list views to allow efficient management of large numbers of volumes; All operational tasks logged to provide audit trail.
    Vendor Comment: Incipient NSP provides data migration services that do not required application or server downtime. Data migrations can take place while applications are performing I/O to the data being migrated.
    Availability: Fall 2006
    Base Cost: Incipient NSP software license (base); $137,500 per Cisco SSM; Incipient NSP Network Copy Service; $45,000 per Cisco SSM.
    Detailed Specs: http://www.incipient.com/solutions/volumeManagement.htm
    Vendor URL: www.incipient.com

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    Product Snapshot #7
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    Product: LeftHand Networks Inc.; SAN/iQ software

    Maximum Capacity: Unlimited
    Largest Virtual Volume: 256 TB
    Maximum Disks: Unlimited
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: Unlimited
    Drive/Storage Support: SAN/iQ software supports industry standard platforms from HP, Intel, MPC and several other major providers, as well as its own branded hardware. Hard drive formats include ATA, SATA, SCSI, and SAS.
    I/O Caching: Yes, I/O caching is supported; only limited by the storage server cache.
    Services Supported: SAN/iQ Storage Clustering and Virtualization; SAN/iQ Volume and Snapshot Provisioning Services/Thin Provisioning; SAN/iQ Managed Snapshot; SAN/iQ Remote Copy; SAN/iQ Synchronous Replication; VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Services); VDS (Virtual Disk Service); DSM for MPIO
    Maximum Throughput: Rated at 250 Mb/sec (2 Gb/sec); there is no limit on aggregate bandwidth of all nodes.
    Maximum Transactions: 80,000
    Security Features: iSCSI CHAP; iSCSI initiator security; User ID/Password security for administration
    Provisioning Support: Volumes can be either fully or thinly provisioned. Snapshots can be either fully or thinly provisioned. The auto-grow feature allocates physical capacity to thinly provisioned volumes on demand. Volumes can be grown and shrunk on the fly. Volumes and snapshots can be synchronously replicated to up to three mirrors. Online volume and snapshot migration is supported as well.
    Requirements: Gigabit Ethernet switched networking is required at minimum. iSCSI initiators are also required on the host servers.
    Implementation: SAN/iQ software can be equipped on varying industry standard platforms from HP, Intel, MPC and several other major providers, as well as its own branded hardware. Storage modules running SAN/iQ software are connected to a Gigabit Ethernet switched infrastructure. The software is then used to configure the storage modules into a storage cluster (storage pool). Volumes are provisioned from the cluster and allocated to the application server(s).
    Snapshot Support: Yes, snapshots are supported. SAN/iQ snapshots are copy-on-first-write (COFW) snapshots. The auto-grow feature handles allocation of storage on the fly for snapshots.
    Reporting and Logging: SAN health and capacity utilization reports are included in the user interface. Performance data is available via SNMP. All monitored variable logs are available via user interface. Alerts can also be sent to the user interface, SNMP and/or SMTP. System logs are kept on the storage array and can also be sent to a syslog server.
    Vendor Comment: SAN/iQ is open iSCSI SAN management software that creates storage clusters over standard Ethernet networks. Users can deploy best-of-breed SANs based on performance, capacity and budget requirements, breaking the propriety chain – this allows mid-tier enterprises the ability to deploy full-featured storage networks and disaster recovery solutions without breaking the bank.
    Availability: SAN/iQ v.6.6 is currently available.
    Base Cost: Pricing varies by platform; estimated entry-level integrated hardware and software pricing starts at $20,000.
    Detailed Specs: http://www.lefthandnetworks.com/products/saniq.php
    Vendor URL: www.lefthandnetworks.com

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    Product Snapshot #8
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    Product: Symantec Corp.; Veritas Storage Foundation

    Maximum Capacity: No storage capacity limitation. The capacity is only limited by the operating system (e.g., the total number of LUNs that are addressable by Windows) and how the storage is configured (e.g., capacity per LUN).
    Largest Virtual Volume: 4,096 exabytes
    Maximum Disks: No limitation. This is a limitation imposed by Operating System.
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: No limitation. This is also a limitation imposed by Operating System. On Solaris, Storage Foundation supports 2^18 (2 to the 18th) virtual volumes.
    Drive/Storage Support: Supports SCSI, FC, ATA, SATA, EIDE, and others. Storage Foundation supports internal storage, direct attached storage, network attached storage, and SAN attached storage.
    I/O Caching: Yes; utilizes available server memory for file system cache. Maximum limit is determined by the operating system and server hardware, and the customer has the option to tune the amount of cache utilized.
    Services Supported: Supports industry services (e.g., SMI-S from SNIA), as well as many operating system specific services. For example, Veritas Storage Foundation for Windows is fully certified with Microsoft's MPIO for both iSCSI and FC, Virtual Disk Services, and Volume Shadow Copy Services.
    Maximum Throughput: Maximum throughput is limited by the system configuration (e.g., server, storage, network, etc).
    Maximum Transactions: Maximum throughput is limited by the system configuration (e.g., server, storage, network, etc).
    Security Features: Uses a number of authentication and security services (Veritas Security services which includes authentication and security) to provide secure, role based access/control to organizations.
    Provisioning Support: Veritas Storage Foundation can be provisioned through Veritas Provisioning Manager or 3rd party products like, Solaris JumpStart, HP-UX Ignite.
    Requirements: Requirements vary depending on which platform the product is deployed on. For the latest support hardware compatibility lists go to http://support.veritas.com/.
    Implementation: Veritas Storage Foundation can be implemented by the customer, and Symantec has professional services and consulting services for custom implementations or large/complex implementations.
    Snapshot Support: Mirror break-off, Full volume snapshots, block level (copy-on-write) snapshots, read-only snapshots, file system checkpoints. Veritas Storage Foundation supports an unlimited number of file system checkpoints and up to 32 volume copies.
    Reporting and Logging: Utilizes standard Unix-syslog functions to log messages and can pass information to other applications (e.g., HP OpenView, Tivoli, etc). Veritas Storage Foundation also gives customers the ability to report and manage through a single, secure, web-based console.
    Vendor Comment: Veritas Storage Foundation provides a complete solution for heterogeneous online storage management. Based on the industry-leading Veritas Volume Manager and Veritas File System, it provides a standard set of integrated tools to centrally manage explosive data growth, maximize storage hardware investments, provide data protection and adapt to changing business requirements.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Starts at $695
    Detailed Specs: http://www.symantec.com/enterprise/products/overview.jsp?pcid=1020&pvid=203_1
    Vendor URL: www.symantec.com

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    Product Snapshot #9
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    Product: VMware Inc.; VMware Infrastructure 3

    Maximum Capacity: 512 TB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 512 TB
    Maximum Disks: 256
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 30,000
    Drive/Storage Support: Local SCSI and SAS drives, fiber channel connected LUNs (regardless of underlying storage type) and iSCSI connected LUNs (regardless of underlying storage type)
    I/O Caching: No I/O is cached.
    Services Supported: Clustering; Virtual disk snapshots; Multipath I/O; Logical volume management for VMFS extension (on-line); virtual disk growth and virtual disk shrinkage (off-line); Live virtual disk migration (ESX2 -> ESX3 upgrades); Basic load balancing; There is no virtual disk shrinkage option even offline.
    Maximum Throughput: Not available
    Maximum Transactions: Not available
    Security Features: For virtual disk security, we have permission bits like any *NIX file system to restrict console access. For VirtualCenter access, we have very fine grained and customizable roles for use in access control lists. From the storage point of view, there is no disk encryption mechanism (like ACE).
    Provisioning Support: VMFS supports fully zeroed pre-allocated virtual disks (thick disks) to guarantee disk space, contiguous allocation for less fragmentation, and protection against uninitialized reads. VMFS also supports lazy zero algorithm for preallocated disks for security and protection from malicious applications. Thin provisioning is in the code and is used for templates but is not generally available for VM usage dues to a lack of UI protections against running out of space.
    Requirements: Server - x86 server; Software - VMware Infrastructure 3; Storage - Local SCSI and SAS drives, fiber channel connected LUNs (regardless of underlying storage type) and iSCSI connected LUNs (regardless of underlying storage type)
    Implementation: Formatting a LUN with ESX Server creates VMFS volumes for instant utilization for VM storage. VMFS volumes can be presented to multiple hosts simultaneously (via LUN masking and zoning on the SAN) to allow for advanced features like VMotion, VMware HA, and VMware DRS, which leverage VMFS instantly without any need for further configuration.
    Snapshot Support: We support snapshots of virtual machines by saving state of the VM to the file system.
    Reporting and Logging: We log errors and system alerts to vmkernel log; VMFS also provides file systems statistics via vmkfstools and vdf command; From the hosts, you can also get storage statistics via the proc node through vsish(shell interface); Also, from VirtualCenter, you can get system alerts, historical information such as performance, storage information for LUNs, HBAs, etc.
    Vendor Comment: VMFS is the only clustered filesystem in the industry that is optimized for virtual machines. The capabilities of VMFS are a critical enabler for high-value services like VMware VMotion, DRS and HA that provide dynamic resource optimization and improved levels of availability.
    Availability: VMware Infrastructure 3 available in June of 2006
    Base Cost: VMware Infrastructure Starter list price is $1000 per two processors. VMware Infrastructure Standard list price is $3750 per two processors. VMware Infrastructure Enterprise list price is $5750 per two processors.
    Detailed Specs: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_server_config
    Vendor URL: http://www.vmware.com

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    This was first published in November 2006

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