DataCore SANsymphony-V - is calling it a "Storage Hypervisor" reaching too far?

Can the term "hypervisor" really be used to describe storage virtualization software? DataCore thinks that SANsymphony-V's management of resources and simplification of storage device independence qualifies.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

A while back, I spoke with George Teixeira, president and CEO of DataCore, and his colleague, Augie Gonzalez, Director of Product Marketing about DataCore SANsymphony-V Storage Hypervisor Software. I must admit that I was taken aback by DataCore's use of the term "hypervisor" to describe storage virtualization software.  A lovely debate ensued before we could get down to talking about the product and its capabilities. Before I get to the debate, let's look at the software.

What DataCore has to say about SANsymphony-V Storage Hypervisor

DataCore Software, the industry’s premier provider of storage virtualization software, announced today major enhancements to its centrally-managed SANsymphony™- V solution. Combined, these new features elevate SANsymphony-V to the role of storage hypervisor, placing customers in the unique position to fully leverage their existing storage assets, including direct-attached storage (DAS), storage area networks (SAN) and solid state disks (SSD), and negotiate the best deals among competing storage manufacturers without concern for long-standing hardware vendor lock-ins.

SANsymphony-V 8.1 is a portable, centrally-managed software suite capable of enhancing the combined value of multiple disk storage systems, including the many purpose-built storage appliances and SSD type devices arriving to the market daily. The storage hypervisor supplements the individual capabilities of specialized equipment with a broad range of device-independent, integrated services. The new release adds:

  • Automated Storage Tiering to maximize price/performance of available storage assets
  • Open APIs, VSS and PowerShell support for greater management integration
  • Expanded Microsoft Failover Cluster support for greater scalability

SANsymphony-V also features an improved, highly integrated and enhanced suite of services, including:

  • Adaptive Caching for performance acceleration
  • Thin Provisioning for space efficiency
  • Synchronous Mirroring for high-availability
  • Asynchronous Replication for remote sites and disaster recovery (DR)
  • Low-Impact Online Snapshots for high-speed disk to disk backup
  • Pass Through Disks for non-disruptive migrations
  • Continuous Data Protection (CDP) for any point in time backup and recovery
  • Unified Storage for managing file shares (NAS) and SANs

This comprehensive set of storage control and monitoring functions provide a transparent, virtual layer across consolidated disk pools to improve the availability, speed and utilization of contemporary data centers as well as private, public and hybrid clouds.

Snapshot analysis

First let's deal with the concept of a storage hypervisor and then go on to an quick evaluation of SANsymphony-V.

What is a hypervisor anyway?

A hypervisor, also called a virtual machine manager, allows an encapsulated complete computing environment that includes other components such as an operating system, application frameworks, database management software and applications, to execute side-by-side with other encapsulated computing environments. There are two types of hypervisors in use today. One, called a type I hypervisor, runs directly on the bare hardware, the other, called a type II hypervisor is hosted on a general purpose operating system such as Windows, Linux or UNIX and allows encapsulated computing environments to run as a process under the general purpose operating system.

You'll note that this description doesn't talk about software that sits between the computing environment and storage systems and improves management, increases storage availability, and hides storage device differences from the rest of the computing environment. So, "Storage Hypervisor" is clearly a marketing catch-phrase, an oxymoron, rather than a technically useful phrase.

While I applaud DataCore's attempt to create a memorable catch-phrase, I can't support the attempt to add another technically inaccurate catch-phrase to an already confusing environment.

What about the capabilities of SANsympohony-V?

The folks at DataCore have been very clever over the years and have come up with a number of really useful bits of technology that allow storage administrators to easily provision, manage and backup storage without having to concern themselves with the storage devices all that much. Each release of DataCore software has made it more easily possible to consider the storage a self-optimizing, self-managing and self-healing "black box"  for industry standard computing environments. This release of SANsymphony is no exception.

While I can't support their attempt to create yet another technically inaccurate marketing catch phrase, I can suggest that their technology would be a good tool to use along side of virtual processing software.

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