DataCore's Storage Hypervisor: An Overview

DataCore's SANsymphony-V software provides a host of storage features, including auto-tiering, replication, and the ability to remove physical disks without disruption, that can be run on a variety of storage hardware.

David Hill

November 6, 2012

4 Min Read
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A storage hypervisor is an emerging term used by some vendors to describe their approach to storage virtualization. Several companies offer storage hypervisors, including IBM, Virsto and DataCore. I've already written about IBM and Virsto in previous blogs.

Now it's DataCore's turn. DataCore is an independent software vendor (ISV), so it has no financial interest in selling the underlying storage hardware. It supports both virtualized servers and traditional physical hosts and legacy storage with the same feature stack and automation. DataCore's storage hypervisor is a software product called the SANsymphony-V. This blog will examine some enhanced and new features of the Version 9 release.

Auto-tiering Auto-tiering is a "hot" topic (pun intended!) with not only Tier 0 solid state devices, but also performance (SAS or FC) hard disk drives, capacity (SATA) and archived storage that can even be rented from public cloud providers at a distance. This feature also includes automatic tuning that creates heat maps to reveal heavy disk activity, so that the hottest data gets the most attention (in order to meet performance service level requirements). It also automates load balancing across the available disk resources.

Scale-out architecture DataCore also supports a scale-out architecture, which lets administrators add DataCore nodes non-disruptively to meet the growing I/O needs of larger IT data centers and cloud storage providers.

N+1 configuration Redundancy is built in to the storage infrastructure via an N+1 configuration that uses spare I/O bandwidth to absorb the loss of a node and its resources without compromising throughput. The financial benefits are significant and can result in substantial savings. N+1 configurations let administrators add a single node at a time, rather than the norm of 2N redundant systems. This provides granularity and much better amortization for customers that want to increase performance or redundancy but don't want the added cost that comes from having to purchase dual controllers or two nodes at a time.

Non-disruptive pool housekeeping DataCore also offers non-disruptive pool housekeeping, which means a disk drive can be removed from a virtual pool without affecting live applications. This eases processes such as decommissioning a drive due to age or physical problems, or shrinking the size of a physical pool to use the drive elsewhere; the data is automatically distributed among remaining disks without requiring failover or the need to replace the volume. The ability to make changes without affecting application availability should be very welcome to administrators.

Localized off-premises storage DataCore extends the basic principles of pooling, automation and central management to remote sites in addition to a local site; the storage hypervisor makes these processes transparent so neither users nor applications can tell the difference.

Replication and recovery The ability to localize off-premise storage lets customers leverage distant sites for disaster recovery; on top of the synchronous mirroring within metropolitan distances, SANsymphony-V can manage one-to-many, many-to-one and many-to-many asynchronous replication connections over long-haul links; one benefit of its bi-directional replication approach is that users can test disaster recovery procedures without impacting production or the ongoing replication of production data. This capability is very useful as disaster recovery testing is often ignored for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is hard to bring applications down even temporarily in 24-by-business environments.

Up Next:Two DataCore Customer Use is a service provider that offers VM and enterprise storage platforms in multiple virtual private data centers (that is, hosts customer compute and storage resources at its data centers) that are all connected to a Cisco-based10-Gbps multinational backbone. Among the many services the company offers are virtual enterprise servers, storage, backup/restore, disaster recovery and colocation.

DataCore is at the heart of's enterprise SAN storage platform. believes DataCore offers the necessary performance and data integrity (every byte of data is written twice within a synchronous mirror) at a competitive price. Among the things likes about DataCore are hardware independence (for example, in a SAN hardware refresh it can add and migrate data on the fly with no downtime), operating system independence and robust I/O performance, as DataCore's use of hundreds of gigabytes of high-speed cache essentially turns a traditional SAN into a high-speed hybrid solid-state SAN at a fraction of the cost.

X-IO (formerly Xiotech) builds hardware with its Hyper ISE (Intelligent Storage Elements) storage system. With a great deal of engineering experience and innovation. The goal is to deliver high performance to accelerate enterprise applications at good price/performance level. However, X-IO has decided to shed itself of the storage and data management software (such as snapshot and replication software) that typically characterizes enterprise-class storage.

But customers still need storage and data management software. DataCore comes provides those capabilities in X-IO products. As a result, X-IO can take a hardware-intensive focus and improve price/performance while DataCore picks up the slack.

DataCore is not a client of David Hill and the Mesabi Group.

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