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DataCore Revs Virtualized Storage Software, Adds Heatmaps, and More

DataCore Software has added heatmaps to show hot spots of disk activity in the newest version of its flagship storage virtualization product. SANsymphony-V 9.0 also includes enhancements in the areas of replication, reporting, use of flash media, integration with system management software, and others.

SANsymphony provides a storage hypervisor to perform storage management in a virtualized data center. Multiple forms of storage from a variety of vendors can be pooled together and dynamically committed based on the workload.

The heatmap feature allows the storage administrator to visualize heavy activity within a physical disk pool. The new release can perform automatic rebalancing to reduce "hot spots" by moving bottleneck disk blocks among other active drives in the pool. Likewise, aging disks or disks that need to be removed from the environment can have their contents redistributed to the remaining disks in the pool.

Replication features have been updated to allow for reproduction of virtual disks from one DataCore node to several or vice versa. This allows IT to perform backup for many smaller data centers or remote sites to a central data center or to spread backup among multiple data centers. IT can also test disaster recovery by using a replicated virtual disk at a secondary site without touching the production site. The storage administrator can also set priorities for how virtual disks should be allocated replication bandwidth.

New resource reports can be used to calculate cost allocations and generate billing and to track configuration changes over time to help with capacity planning and troubleshooting.

A new auto-tiering feature optimizes the use of pricier flash drives alongside more modestly priced, higher capacity disk drives. The program monitors input/output behavior and auto-selects between server memory caches, flash storage, and traditional disk resources in real-time.

The latest version of the storage software now integrates with three popular system monitoring products: Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (as a monitoring pack), VMware vCenter Server, and Hitachi IT Operations Analyzer (as a plug-in). This addition helps IT to manage the storage virtualization layer within the same tool used to manage other aspects of the virtualized environment.

Testing by a third-party lab has found that the use of SANsymphony has made a measurable improvement in performance of critical applications. "DataCore's impact on performance was dramatic in every metric we measured," said Tony Palmer, senior engineer and analyst with ESG Lab, part of the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Even more impressive is how SANsymphony-V simplifies management and how easily it can make data center storage more resilient. With a single mouse click disk capacity is served and all the normal error-prone steps to configure, tune, and set best paths for high availability get done auto-magically,"

In a video about his testing experiences, Palmer added that he found the software easy to install and simple to manage. "Really, 15 minutes after we sat down, we had a running system fully virtualized [and] we were able to do some storage performance testing simulating mixed workload. What we found is that each workload improved in performance over the four individual servers we started with."

In the ESG lab validation report, the benchmark tests confirmed that Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange workloads were able to improve their performance by nearly five times. Also, the SANsymphony-V systems were able to support 1,500 users as compared to 322 users on the non-virtualized physical servers.

K-12 district customers include Rocklin Unified School District in California, Saginaw Intermediate School District in Michigan, and Barren County Schools in Kentucky, among others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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