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Storage Virtualisation



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Published By:  DataCore Software

Storage virtualisation software that works across multiple storage devices

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SANsymphony-V is a storage hypervisor with a transparent virtualisation layer that spans disk storage devices to maximise their availability, performance and utilisation. It provides centrally-managed data protection, provisioning, caching, replication and migration features that work over a range of different models and brands. With SANsymphony-V you can speed-up applications, eliminate storage-related disruptions, maximise use of available disk space and much more.

Analysis and reporting

The built-in administrative interface provides real-time status and charts on I/O ports across the virtual storage pool. This information may be used to reassign overloaded channels or back-end drives. It also helps determine when additional resources are necessary to scale the solution to match growth. A multitude of performance counters can be charted.

  • Configurable views of system behaviour and performance
  • Drill down into I/O characteristics
  • Save configuration snapshots for change management
  • Export resource allocation to billing & chargeback tools.

Asynchronous remote replication

DataCore¿s remote replication function addresses requirements for secondary copies to be housed beyond the reach of synchronous mirroring, as in distant disaster recovery sites, branch offices and satellite facilities. The software operates asynchronously, meaning that it does not hold up the application waiting on confirmation from the remote end that the update has been stored in both places. Instead, it offers to do its best to keep up to date with changes at the local site, but makes no guarantees.

  • Perfect for disaster recovery, business continuity or inter-site migrations
  • Only needs a basic IP connection to the secondary sites
  • Bidirectional transfers
  • Asynchronous protocol to tolerate transmission delays and link outages
  • Central site to remote sites (1-to-many)
  • Remote sites to central site (Many-to-1)
  • Compressed, multi-stream transfers for fastest performance and optimum use of bandwidth
  • Allocate link bandwidth among replicated disks based on user-defined storage profiles
  • Expedite initialisation of remote site using transportable media
  • Test disaster recovery readiness without impacting production
  • Direction of replication can be reversed using Advanced Site Recovery
  • Integrated with VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM).


Automated storage tiering distills down to monitoring I/O behaviour, determining frequency of use, then dynamically moving blocks of information to the most suitable class or tier of storage device (SSD, Fast Disk, Capacity Disk, Gateway to Cloud Storage Provider). DataCore SANsymphony-V software automatically 'promotes' most frequently used blocks to the fastest tier, whereas least frequently used blocks get ¿demoted¿ to the slowest tier. Everything else floats to the middle.

You can also pin specific volumes (virtual disks) to a tier of your choosing, or define an 'affinity' to a particular tier. Only if that tier is completely exhausted, will a lower tier be chosen.

Centralised management

SANsymphony-V centralises provisioning, control and monitoring of distributed storage pools through a remote management console. The intuitive administrative interface offers self-guided wizards to direct unfamiliar operators through best practice procedures. All of the integrated functions are managed from the single pane of glass without having to deal with model- or vendor-specific variations. The graphical user interface (GUI) is highly configurable to accommodate individual preferences.

  • Intuitive to set up and operate
  • Automates repetitive tasks
  • Self-guided wizards for key workflows
  • Comprehensive diagnostics & troubleshooting tips
  • Configurable views of real-time system behaviour and performance
  • Group operations for disks dependent on or related to each other
  • Resource allocation reports (exportable for billing / chargebacks)
  • Configuration reports (channels assignments, parameters used, etc.)
  • Role-based, administrative permissions with audit trail of configuration changes.

Cloud gateway

With the introduction of cloud as a part of a storage virtualisation strategy, there is no longer a need to deploy dedicated off-site infrastructure to move data backups off-premise for disaster recovery. Petabytes of thin-provisioned cloud storage can be added to the infrastructure, with a cloud storage gateway feature set, including dynamic caching, data reduction, at-rest local key encryption and bandwidth optimisation. Augmenting or even replacing an off-site tape strategy is simpler than ever.

  • Supports the popular public cloud hosting services
  • Appears as on-premises iSCSI-attached storage
  • Caches transmissions & controls bandwidth

Continuous Data Protection (CDP) & recovery

Continuous Data Protection (or CDP) provides a clever way to restore a point in time between the longer interval covered by your snapshots and backups. CDP continuously logs and timestamps I/Os written to designated virtual disks allowing you to revert back to a time of your choosing within a 48 hour period. It¿s like an undo button.

  • Dial back to restore an arbitrary point-in-time within a 48 hour time frame
  • Logs and timestamps all I/Os to the selected virtual disks
  • No need to quiesce or interrupt applications
  • Group virtual disks to synchronise their logs
  • No host agents required
  • Easy to turn on and revert from.

Disk migration

A by-product of making storage interchangeable using DataCore¿s storage virtualisation software is the ease with which you can relocate data from one storage system to another, non-disruptively. Having copied the contents to the new drives in the background, the software will zero out the original disk and reclaim its space into the free pool.

  • Allows non-disruptive hardware disk upgrades
  • Clears and reclaims space occupied on the original drive(s)
  • Decommission active physical disks non-disruptively from pools and redistribute their contents among the remaining disks in the pool
  • Provides pass-through access to drives previously used on other systems.

High speed caching

Up to 1 Terabyte of relatively inexpensive cache may be configured on each DataCore node enabling it to turn around disk requests at electronic memory speeds. Caching essentially recognises I/O patterns helping it anticipate which blocks to read next into RAM from the back-end disks. That way the next request can be fulfilled quickly from memory absent mechanical disk delays.

Load balancing

Load balancing across the back-end channels into the physical storage pool complements caching to improve response and throughput. The host computers may also be doing host-based load balancing across their ports. Load balancing helps to overcome short-term bottlenecks that may develop when the queue to a given disk channel is overly taxed, or when one channel fails or is taken offline. SANsymphony-V regularly further fine tunes itself by redistributing disk blocks which may be overloading a specific disk drive.

  • Overcomes typical storage-related bottlenecks
  • Spreads load on physical devices using different channels for different virtual disks
  • Detects disk ¿hot spots¿ and transparently redistributes blocks across the pool
  • Automatically bypasses failed or offline channels.

Online snapshots

Snapshots capture a known good point-in-time that may be used for several purposes without scheduling lengthy back-up windows. It may give you a recovery point to undo a patch or file deletion. Or it may be used to feed business intelligence analysis.

Snapshots are invaluable in cloning working system images to provision identical new servers or new virtual desktops. Capturing changes at the SAN level affords some major advantages: for one, there is no dependency on host software. Nor does it consume host resources. And you don¿t need mutually compatible disk arrays. You can snap the contents of disks on a tier 1 array and place it on a tier 2 or tier 3 device rather than tie up expensive space on the top-of-the-line equipment.

DataCore gives you several snapshot variations: differential snapshot to capture changes, a full clone snapshot, an update snapshot to refresh an existing snapshot and a revert snapshot to undo changes.

  • Recover quickly at disk speeds to a known good state
  • Eliminate back-up window
  • Provide 'live' copy of environment for analysis, development and testing
  • Save snapshots in lower tier, thin-provisioned storage without taking up space on premium storage devices
  • Synchronise snapshots across groups of virtual disks
  • Trigger from Microsoft VSS-compatible applications and VMware vCenter.

RAID striping

RAID (or Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks) is a common way to gain better performance and protection by spreading I/O across multiple disk spindles. Virtual disks may be intentionally striped across several physical drives or simply mapped to a logical RAID drive supplied by the underlying disk subsystems. Thin provisioning takes advantage of striping to dynamically allocate more disk space when the initial set of drives runs out of room.

  • Circumvents drive failures
  • Spreads I/O across multiple spindles
  • Offloads RAID 0 & 1
  • Supports popular RAID devices in pool.

Advanced Site Recovery

Advanced Site Recovery (ASR) automates and simplifies how a remote IT facility takes over workloads from a central site in the event of a disaster or scheduled outage. Plus ASR updates the main site's storage pool with the changes that transpired whilst it was offline. ASR builds on the virtual disk provisioning, asynchronous remote replication and online snapshot features to circumvent downtime and expedite central site restoration.

Sync mirroring (high availability)

When it comes to non-stop storage access, synchronous mirroring deserves most of the credit. It handles the real-time replication of I/Os for the ultimate in continuous availability. Having two nodes store the data simultaneously in conjunction with the host¿s multipath I/O (MPIO) or Asymmetric Logical Unit Access (ALUA) drivers eliminates single points of failure or disruption.

SANsymphony-V allows you to configure redundant storage pools by synchronously mirroring between DataCore nodes. For any mirrored virtual disk, one DataCore node owns the primary copy and another holds the secondary copy. Those are maintained in lock step.

  • Architect N+1 redundant grids for continuous availability
  • Eliminate SAN or storage as a single point of failure when combined with host MPIO or ALUA drivers
  • Enhance survivability using physically separate nodes in different locations
  • Mirrored virtual disks behave like one, multi-ported shared drive, while automatically updating the two copies simultaneously
  • Establish a common hot site for multiple data centers in the same metropolitan area
  • May be combined with clustered file shares to achieve high-availability NAS.

Thin provisioning and space efficiency

Thin provisioning enables you to assign very large logical drives while the space is only consumed when it is actually written to. Rather than tie up all that space, the software allocates only small chunks of disk blocks as needed, just-in-time. DataCore¿s implementation spans all physical devices in the pool, and like its other features, is not dependent on any one host, operating system or server hypervisor.

  • Appears to computers as very large drives (e.g. >2 TB disks)
  • Takes up only space actually being written to
  • Dynamically allocates more disk space when required
  • Notifies you when it¿s time to add capacity
  • Reduces need to resize LUNs
  • Reclaims zeroed out disk space.

Unified storage (NAS/SAN)

Clustered file systems may be layered on top of redundant DataCore nodes to achieve highly available Network Attached Storage (NAS) with fast, uninterrupted access to NFS and/or SMB (CIFS) file shares. Both the file sharing role and the failover clustering features are available directly from the underlying Windows Server OS. You can configure DataCore nodes as 'unified' storage by providing hosts with concurrent access to the file shares over LAN ports while the SAN ports fulfil direct requests for 'raw' disk blocks.

Virtual disk pooling

Virtual disk pooling is DataCore¿s overarching feature responsible for consolidating storage capacity from like or unlike disk resources. Pooling is fundamental to storage virtualisation, enabling virtual (or logical) disks to be rapidly created from blocks of space on the physical devices. Using a central administrative interface, these virtual disks can then be assigned to storage consumers throughout the physical or virtual Cloud with specific access permissions; possibly shared among different hosts, virtual machines or clustered applications. The upper limit on a SANsymphony-V storage pool is well into the petabytes, depending on the product level chosen.

  • Federate widely distributed storage
  • Split pool into tiers with different price/performance/capacity characteristics
  • Create and assign virtual disks of desired sizes
  • Define access rights (read/write/shared)
  • Explicitly assign virtual disks to specific hosts or groups of hosts
  • Expand capacity without downtime
  • Decommission disks non-disruptively
  • Reclaim stranded disk space.

Storage Manufacturers Supported

All popular disk manufacturers are supported, including:

  • Dell, EMC, Fujitsu-Siemens, Fusion-IO, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, LSI, NetApp, Oracle (Sun), Promise, Seagate, Texas Memory Systems, XIO.

Disk Interfaces Supported

Direct-attached and SAN-based connections:

  • SAS, SATA, iSCSI, Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

Disk Packaging Supported

  • Internal disk drives, external JBODs, external storage systems, SSDs.

Host Operating Systems Supported

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2; 2003; 2000, Microsoft Windows 7 and XP, Apple Mac OS X, Unix, HP-UX, IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux.

Hypervisors Supported

  • VMware ESX, vSphere, Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2, Citrix XenServer.

Network Compatibility

  • Synchronous mirroring between nodes over iSCSI and FC connections or asynchronous remote replication over IP LANs, MANs and WANs.

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