DataCore's Vision of Storage Virtualization and Virtual Capacity

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1 DataCore's Vision of Storage Virtualization and Virtual Capacity Virtual Strategy Magazine Interview - Q1, 2005 VSM speaks with DataCore's George Teixeira, President, CEO and a co-founder, about storage virtualization and their concept of Virtual Capacity. DataCore Software specializes in storage control, storage management and storage consolidation. Founded in 1998, they operate global sales, support and service from headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA along with worldwide subsidiaries and distribution partners. VSM: Tell us about the company, and why virtualization is important to DataCore. GT: Our background was in building high-end storage systems that were comparable to the big EMC, Hitachi and IBM Shark systems. Previously storage virtualization and performance acceleration capabilities only resided within vendor specific enterprise-class storage arrays that were expensive. We learned that if you re going to do storage virtualization, you must do all of the high-end features and functions as well as deliver a lot of performance. We built a software platform that is open; it s a future-proof architecture that adapts over time and can harness the power and price/performance advantages of the latest industry advances in CPUs, servers, networks, and disk technologies. Virtualization from our standpoint was not the end-all but a necessary starting point in delivering storage solutions that provide flexibility, simplicity and cost and timesavings. Storage is fundamental. It s about how fast you can read and write data to your disks. It s also about how easily you can manage and serve disk capacity and how well you optimize disk storage resources. Instead of focusing on a single storage problem, DataCore virtualization focused on an overall architecture to save users from dealing with many of the underlying hardware details and on making the more mundane but important storage functions like performance and provisioning work better. We are opening up our base market and therefore we developed newer lower cost offerings like SANmelody and a new capability named Virtual Capacity, the industry s first open and automatic approach to serving disk space just-in-time so you only use and pay for disk resources as you actually need them. Just like virtual memory, users want "virtual capacity" disks that grow capacity automatically to meet their needs, eliminates their 'out of disk space" warnings that force system shut downs to add more disks. This powerful auto-provisioning capability lets users serve up massively large logical disk volumes, sized from gigabytes to terabytes. To application servers, these 'virtual capacity' disk volumes are simple to use since they appear, perform and work just like any other locally attached disk. For instance, what if you had a 2TB disk in your PC. With virtual capacity, we can make it look like you have four or ten or many 2TB disks on your system. Meanwhile those disks are really being served from some physical storage over Ethernet or Fibre Channel. The user has these unlimited 2TB disks that are

2 being made available, while the physical storage can be quite different from that. They ll never run out of space. If their system ever needs a big jump in storage, they don t have to do anything. Best of all you don t have to turn off the computer to add new disks when you run out. VSM: All the user needs to see is that they have the storage they need. GT: Correct. And in the storage pool, whatever real disk you re using is all that you re paying for. We created software that is truly independent of the underlying hardware. An excellent example is provisioning disk storage, which is a very cumbersome and disruptive process across many servers. Administrator labor and downtime quickly add up, in order to add and format a new disk drive, and then shut down the application servers to install the disks. People buy storage provisioning for some later perceived need, which may or may not ever materialize. Then it s just like server utilization, with 10% or 20% utilization. GT: Yes, they re often overbuying. Analysts estimate that only 25% of allocated physical capacity in Microsoft and mixed PC server environments is usable due to vendor lock-ins and different operating system requirements. So 75% of storage assets are typically wasted. We virtualize and consolidate storage resources to maximize productivity and enable utilization rates in the 80-90% range. No one else is doing what we re doing, with the idea of allowing any kind of disks to be behind you. We are closely allying ourselves now with VMware-type partners who understand the mindset. Once they get server virtualization, it s very simple for them to go the next step with virtual storage. VSM: As server virtualization comes more into production, becomes more mainstream, storage virtualization is back. People will want to manage them together. GT: There aren t a lot of people who have tied server and storage architecture together, but we have two dozen enterprise customers out there who do. Most people that do server virtualization wind up needing to do storage virtualization. After all, both consolidate and simplify administration. To me the fit is perfect. I ve seen a big trend from people doing server virtualization, who have found that their need for storage increases. In the past they used to have attached disks. But once you re serving multiple servers, you want to pool your storage, so a SAN makes logical sense, to have the two types of virtualization combined. If you have a lot of storage behind virtual servers, you have a much bigger performance demand and you need the flexibility of a storage network to serve disks where you need them. You also need performance capabilities, and that s one of the reasons DataCore is a perfect fit. We have run the Storage Performance Council benchmarks, and we re the price/performance leaders in the market. We are unique in providing the performance capabilities along with virtualization. VSM: That s important, because for most companies today virtualization is a business decision, not a technical decision. Is there one management tool that can be used for both server and storage virtualization that shows both the server and storage interfaces?

3 GT: Right now they are two separate interfaces. It would be pretty easy to combine them in a Web interface, or something like that. We will be looking at doing that. In reality, instead of managing many separate servers and many separate disk systems, the consolidation benefits are enormous. VSM: What products does DataCore offer now? GT: We focus on two products: SANmelody and SANsymphony. SANsymphony, our enterprise-class product, came out first. The idea was very simple, to take all the different kinds of storage that are in the market, and allow them to work together and to be pooled and served up as storage to any Unix, Microsoft, Mac or Novell operating system. It enables remote disaster recovery, doubles effective disk utilization by pooling disk space across SAN infrastructures that encompass multiple devices and array types, and automatically allocates just enough capacity, just-intime to needy applications. SANmelody is disk server software that uses a lot of the same technology, but at a much lower cost. It enables users to easily add disk space inexpensively over the LAN without the need to reconfigure hardware, open up systems or even reboot application servers. It transforms a PC server into a compelling alternative to today s arrays. You take a PC with disks, add SANmelody, and you can serve those disks off that PC to any other system on the network. That can be over Ethernet using iscsi or Fibre Channel. And it can serve Virtual Capacity over both connections. VSM: Who is using these products? GT: SANsymphony is in use by larger customers like Lufthansa, BBN Amro, Price Waterhouse Coopers. It has been deployed at 100's of enterprise sites worldwide many supporting 1000s of users. SANmelody is a newer product, announced this past summer, and we are working with new partners like Samsung and NEC to ship volumes. This tends to be the SMB product. VSM: How does iscsi fit? GT: That s one of the key reasons we came out with SANmelody. We found that cost was an issue for the SMB market. People were afraid to make the jump over to Fibre Channel. Both SANmelody and SANsymphony do support iscsi. The difference with SANmelody is that for $1,000, or with SANmelody Lite for $200, you can try a small SAN in your home or office. It takes 20 minutes to install with a wizard. To us, iscsi was a way to take virtualization and bring it out to everyone. VSM: How is the product acceptance of SANmelody Lite? Are individuals looking at it? GT: The users right now tend to be gamers and power users. That s not unusual. They tend to find all the new technology. With the SMBs, SANmelody has been doing very well. We ve quadrupled our sales in the last quarter. VSM: In virtual server environments managers often need to bill users for their share of the pooled

4 resources. Is that also an issue in storage virtualization? GT: Yes it is. We have another product called SANmaestro that is reporting software, and that issue was one of the drivers behind bringing it to market. Lufthansa, for example, sell their storage services not only internally, but to outside companies. Then they do chargebacks and billing. So the same concept is being applied on the storage side. We ve made it so you can charge the user by capacity, or by how many I/Os are being utilized. We found that you can allocate a lot of storage to the user that they never use. So we also allow billing by how many reads and writes they are doing to the disk. VSM: Who are your competitors? DataCore, IBM, and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) are clearly viewed as the leaders within storage virtualization in the enterprise marketplace, but in truth, we rarely run into each other in the small to mid-size business open market due to the high price of IBM and HDS products. By the way, the real competition right now is not a particular company. It s the old mindset: customers will continue to buy storage arrays or boxes, throwing hardware at the problem. The challenge with that model is cost. Whenever you buy hardware it s depreciating on a pretty fast cycle and whatever software is on it becomes throwaway at the end of that depreciation cycle. DataCore users realize that they have an investment not only in software but also in the methodologies and processes, and that these must live independently of the evolution of the hardware underneath. Better technology and great economics are not all that is needed - mindsets and processes have to change as well. The good news is that with DataCore, users have a choice of using their existing storage disks and boxes, mixing and matching new arrays or going all the way to low-cost disks. Whatever they choose, overall storage performance and productivity get improved. There s also a company called 3PAR Data that does storage virtualization, but they do it in their box. Most of the concepts in virtualization have in the past been done in a single hardware arrays. If they re doing virtualization in an array, they re selling their own unique disks. VSM: IBM is now doing storage virtualization for EMC. The fact that IBM is pushing into other hardware seems to validate your concept. GT: It certainly does. Our website is being bombarded now, and we can almost tie the jump to when IBM and Hitachi made their announcements in the last six months. Hitachi Data Systems TagmaStore, their big virtual box, starts at $495,000. Meanwhile, we re selling SANmelody for $1,000, and the performance is about equivalent. This is no different than in the early days with mainframes and PCs. VSM: What does the future look like for storage virtualization and for DataCore? GT: Over the last year we ve seen a rekindling and rebirth of storage virtualization. Frankly, iscsi is

5 opening it up, and also the success of VMware; these developments are fueling our growth. For storage virtualization, I see three driving forces: the move to greater commoditization of hardware, the need to better consolidate the use of resources and the need to drive down people costs. Every CIO I have visited recently is focused on the cost equation and getting higher productivity out. DataCore enables commoditization while providing performance and functionality. We allow multiple storage types and existing storage to be consolidated to maximize storage asset utilization. Our software greatly automates storage management and the administrative tasks associated with storing information across many systems. Another key driver for storage virtualization is the increase in server virtualization products like VMware. They drive the need for a lot more storage. When you only had individual servers, you would just use the attached captive disks installed in the server. With server virtualization products, you need virtual infrastructure storage, which can be served up to one server, or many servers, or a farm of servers. A lot more capacity and flexibility is required, and there s typically a lot more performance load on those virtualized servers. Because of DataCore s scalability and performance, our storage virtualization may help foster an even faster rate of adoption of combined large-scale server and storage virtualization infrastructures. It s an interesting cycle; server virtualization drives more storage and performance requirements, therefore driving the need for powerful storage virtualization. Virtualization is a never-ending endeavor. DataCore does a great job of virtualizing storage and products like VMware do a great job of virtualizing servers, but there is a lot more to do to build a total virtual infrastructure. Many of our customers have already combined these two technologies, and I see this trend continuing. We know we must work with vendors like VMware and Microsoft so that our combined virtual capabilities do work well together within user environments. We will stay focused on the storage and storage networking problems, and continue to work on performance, higher availability designs, productivity improvements to storage tasks, better reporting, simpler and faster disk-to-disk back up technologies, and greater virtualization of other key elements of storage networks such as switch management and device management. ***** DataCore Software Corporation: General Information: Worldwide Headquarters Corporate Park 6300 NW 5th Way Ft. Lauderdale, FL Telephone: (877) (USA only) Fax: (954)

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