EMC Overhauls Invista

Vendor revamps its storage virtualization strategy with new version of Invista

December 11, 2007

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

EMC attempted to push its storage virtualization strategy forward today, taking the wraps off the latest version of its Invista SAN virtualization solution, touting improved availability, scalability, pricing, and integration with VMware.

Even taking into account the relatively slow progress of storage virtualization, Invista has been a surprisingly low profile offering in the EMC stable since its launch more than two years ago.

The block virtualization solution, formerly code-named the Storage Router, is EMC's rival to IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and HDS's TagmaStore.

"We have been getting a lot of feedback that we have perhaps been too quiet about Invista," admits Doc D'Errico, vice president of EMC's infrastructure software group.

EMC is now ready to up the ante. The vendor has added a Control Path Cluster (CPC) feature to Invista, enabling users to connect a number of Invista appliances to servers, storage, and Fibre Channel switches over distances of up to 500 meters. If one appliance in the cluster fails, the others can take over."With Invista Version 1, there was always a question about whether it was a complete product, [but] they have beefed up the availability side of it and it's consistent with what expectations are in the market," says Taneja Group Analyst Arun Taneja. "There is an additional controller now, so if the control path fails, you won't have a failure, because the other ones will keep on working."

On the scalability side, EMC has doubled the number of virtual volumes that can be supported by Invista from 4,000 to 8,000. This steals a march on IBM, whose SVC already runs in a cluster up to 500 meters apart, but currently supports just 4,000 virtual volumes. IBM is planning to extend that to 8,000 sometime next year, however.

Around a dozen users have already deployed Invista 2, according to EMC, although only one of these, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., has been made public.

"For us, the problem that we were having with storage was that the server admins had to be too involved in storage, but Invista lets us abstract that," says Mike Rubesch, Purdue University's director of IT systems and operations. "If we decided to move [data] from one tier of storage to another, the server admin had to remap the volumes, but now the storage admin can do that work on Invista."

EMC's decision to double the number of virtual volumes supported by Invista is a good move for the future, according to the exec."It's not a concern right at this minute, but with our storage growth, I could see that coming real soon," says Rubesch, whose storage has grown from 9 Pbytes to 220 Pbytes in just six years.

The exec was somewhat confused by EMC's announcement of certification between Invista and VMware's ESX Server 3 software today, given that he has been running about 150 VMware virtual servers behind Invista since August. "Since VMware is one of the first environments that we put behind Invista, I am glad to hear that [EMC] are as confident as we are," he quipped.

EMC also overhauled its pricing for the SAN virtualization solution today. Entry-level pricing for Invista 2, which is available now, starts at $100,000 for 10 Tbytes of storage, compared to Invista version 1, which had a flat price of $250,000 for 100 Tbytes or less.

"It was really a response to customer demand, as well as a better alignment with EMC's other pricing models," says D'Errico. "Tiered pricing makes it easier for customers to enter a virtualized infrastructure in steps, as opposed to diving in."

By way of comparison, pricing for IBM's SVC starts at around $50,000, although the vendor is planning an upgrade of its own, according to Chris Saul, the firm's marketing manager for storage virtualization. "The industry is moving on and adding additional capabilities," he says, explaining that IBM will add thin provisioning to SVC in mid-2008.On the downside, Invista still doesn't sport integral replication, something Arun Taneja sees as a drawback. Though EMC's RecoverPoint software is supported by Invista, many users would like to see it actually built into the virtualization software itself.

"With the current replication support that they have got now, it gets the job done, but are there more elegant ways of doing that? Yes," says the analyst. "The number one usage of storage virtualization products that are on the market today is non-disruptive data migration, and replication is part of that functionality."

D'Errico confirms that there are replication announcements on the roadmap for Invista. Another enhancement to the software, which includes mirroring and pooling of storage across heterogeneous devices, will be available later this month. Beyond that, specifics aren't available.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Taneja Group0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights