Despite the fact that arch rival EMC recently acquired VMware, Veritas plans to include support for VMware in its Veritas Cluster Server (VCS). The offering involves a twist in the types of operating systems that VCS has typically supported, since VMware isn't an operating system, but is a technology that, through virtual physical partitioning, facilitates multiple and separate instances of Windows or Linux on the same physical box.
VCS bolsters the availability of the systems by providing storage-centric failover capabilities should a component of an entire system crash. VCS can automatically transfer an orphaned host system to a functioning replica of a failed storage component. If a host system fails, VCS facilitates the automatic provisioning of the waiting storage to a spare host.
If you're a fan or user of VMware, you'll definitely like how Veritas has applied it's clustering technologies to VMware's ESX Server. Suppose, for example, you have a single system running three separate partitions of Linux and one or more of those partitions or the entire system fails. Whereas a typical clustering response might be to transfer control of the storage to a stand-by system, with VCS's support of VMware, control can be transferred to another production VMware system that already has some live partitions and that system will automatically spawn as many new partitions (in this example, three) as are required.
After I had some time to digest the concept, I asked Veritas Director of Linux Strategy Ranajit Nevatia consider this scenario: a Veritas cluster consisting of several dedicated Windows and Linux systems and one VMware system that is dedicated to failover. If any of the dedicated Windows or Linux systems fail, the clustering technology would automatically spawn a partition on the VMware system to take the place of the failed system. According to Veritas, this configuration is not currently supported. Too bad.
In addition to its VMware announcements at LinuxWorld, Veritas also announced VCS support for SuSE Linux. VCS already supported Microsoft Windows, Red Hat Linux, Sun Solaris, IBM AIX and Novell's NetWare, so these new offering complete the picture. According to Nevatia, the cross platform support lends itself nicely to any potential OS-migration projects. For example, companies that are rightsizing from expensive, proprietary Unix systems to Intel-based Linux or Windows machines will find that little work is required to migrate the file system from the old operating system to the new one.
"Normally, if you've got terabytes of data deployed on one platform, and you want to move to another, just migrating all of that data could take weeks or months," said Nevatia. "With our technology, the move only takes minutes our hours." However, Veritas currently supports migration towards Linux but not the other way around. For example, a Solaris shop could very easily migrate to Linux, but a Linux shop cannot so easily migrate to Solaris. According to Nevatia, support for migration away from Linux will be available later this year.
Ease of migration might eventually become an issue for more companies than those who are looking to move from Unix to Linux. I could envision migrations from non-indemnified distributions of Linux (such as Red Hat) to indemnified ones (Novell SuSE). Although both are Linux, and moving from one distribution to another should involve few hiccups, virtualizing the storage through technologies such as those offered by Veritas and EMC could make the move even smoother.