Virtualization Scales Out at VMworld

Storage vendors spew virtualization at this week's VMworld show

September 17, 2008

12 Min Read
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Cloud storage, backup, and managed services are all high on the agenda at VMworld this week, as vendors attempt to catch a ride on the virtualization wave.

Citrix
VMware rival Citrix used its competitors show to unveil ramp up its cloud strategy and unveil Version 5 of its flagship XenServer software, which it claims has received some 130 different enhancements.

Citrix CTO Simon Crosby told Byte and Switch that the upgrade, for example, includes a feature called "automated high availability."

“We prioritize your VMs on the basis of high availability,” he says. “For example, my Exchange server needs to come back first, before my file and print servers.”

Citrix has also expanded the list of storage arrays supported by XenServer, adding, for example, a direct plug-in to devices from Dell/EqualLogic.“That lets users use the built-in features of the array to do backup and cloning for the VM on the array, rather than on the host,” he says. “It saves a ton of time.”

Pricing for XenServer 5, which is available now, remains the same as for Version 4 of the technology.

Like VMware, which threw its weight firmly behind cloud storage this week, Citrix is also keen to boost this side of its business.

The vendor used VMware’s annual get-together to take the wraps off its Citrix Cloud Center (C3) offering, a repackaged bundle of hardware and software aimed specifically at service providers.

C3 includes the vendor’s XenServer cloud edition software, a NetScaler layer 7 switch, a WanScaler WAN optimization appliance, and Citrix’s Workflow Studio software.“It’s an ‘'in-place' upgrade for Xen-based Linux,” says Crosby. “You drop in our drives, but we keep the lid open for our service provider partners to deliver their own storage architectures.”

The exec would not reveal specific pricing for C3, although he did confirm that the service will be charged on a per-VM basis.

“We’re charging per VM, not per server, so our customers avoid a significant outlay of capital on day one,” he says.

Marathon technologies

Software specialist Marathon has teamed up with VMware rival Citrix to jointly develop XenServer High Availablilty (HA), which can manage failures on host servers. XenServer HA is part of Citrix XenServer 5.0 server virtualization offering, which was launched this week.

“If a host that is running multiple virtual machines fails, XenServer HA can restart those VMs on other surviving servers,” says Jerry Melnick, Marathon’s CTO. “The challenge that customers face, is that if there’s a failure of one host, all their VMs are lost.”Marathon will also upgrade its own EverRun VM software, which lets users run two virtual machines simultaneously in an attempt to eliminate downtime. Version 4.1 of EverRun VM integrates with XenServer 5.0, is easier to deploy than the earlier versions of the software, and also lets users put their physical servers in different locations, according to the vendor.

EverRun VM 4.1 is available today, priced from $2,000 per server.

Symantec

Software vendor Symantec took the wraps off the latest versions of its Backup Exec software in Las Vegas this week, unveiling Backup Exec 12.5 and Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5.

Backup Exec 12.5 extends the vendor’s backup offerings for VMware Virtual Infrastructure and Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

“Basically, we’re reducing complexity for virtual backup,” says Susie Spencer, Symantec’s senior product marketing manager for Backup Exec. “Before, it had to be done through scripting and it was a lot of manual processes, but with the agents we’re introducing, it’s a lot easier for customers to deploy and purchase it.”The exec explained that Backup Exec 12.5 comes with a software agent that is deployed on the host hardware that is running the virtual machines (VMs). A single agent with a sole software license can be used to backup an unlimited number of VMs, she added, whereas the earlier version of Backup Exec required an agent for each individual VM.

Other enhancements to Backup Exec 12.5 include support for the complete portfolio of Windows Server 2008 products, including Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008. Symantec has also added a remote media agent for Linux servers, which lets users backup to disk and tape that is directly attached to their Linux server.

Symantec also unveiled the latest version of the Backup Exec System Recovery today, touting the ability to schedule "physical to virtual backups."

“By scheduling, it gives customers the ability to have an immediate virtual file of their physical environment,” says Spencer. “This is important because it dramatically reduces downtime for an organization – now they have it ready when they need it.”

The prior version of Backup Exec System Recovery did not offer any automatic "physical to virtual" conversion, according to Spencer.Backup Exec 12.5 and Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 will be available on Oct. 6. Backup Exec 12.5 is priced from $995 per server, plus a licensing fee for the software agent that starts at $395. Pricing for Backup Exec System Recovery starts at $1,095 per server of $69 per workstation.

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.

LeftHand Networks

SAN specialist LeftHand Networks is unveiling a raft of announcements in Las Vegas this week, which include an enhancement to its SAN/iQ software and a set of hardware, software, and services bundles.

Version 8 of the SAN/iQ software includes a feature called SmartClone, which makes virtual copies of data without duplicating it, says Chris McCall, LeftHand Networks’ senior product marketing manager.“This has two primary use cases, one of them is when you’re storing system image data on your SAN, and the other is for test and development,” he says. “You can rapidly create a test environment based on production data and you can instantly do it without copying all the data.”

LeftHand, which competes with NetApp, EMC, and Dell/EqualLogic, is also aiming the SmartClone feature at organizations that need to store system images of virtual desktops, according to McCall.

“If you have to virtualize 1,000 desktops, you have 1,000 copies of Windows currently stored on cheap PC storage,” he explains. “ What we’re saying is ‘don’t have 1,000 images – have one image’.”

The vendor has also simplified management of SAN/iQ by building an interface into the software that lets users assess storage system, server, and virtual machine performance. SAN/iQ version 8 also contains a ‘Virtual Connection Manager’ which lets users see everything that is connected to their SAN and automates tasks such as mapping virtual volumes to a server.

SAN iQ 8 will be available next month, and will also be offered within a set of hardware and software bundles that the vendor unveiled at VMworld today.”It’s simplification for resellers and customers – it’s everything that you need to get up and running,” explained McCall. “They are all targeted at virtualization environments.”

A ‘Starter San’ package containing 9 Tbytes of SATA storage, dual controllers, and SAN/iQ 8 starts at $30,000. A ‘Virtualization San’ with 10.8 Tbytes of high-speed, 15,000 RPM SAS drives starts at $90,000, and a ‘Multi-Site SAN’ package with 21.6 Tbytes of SAS drives starts at $170,000. Both the ‘Virtualization SAN’ and the ‘Multi-Site SAN’ contain a remote office feature that lets users perform disaster recovery and SAN replication for up to 10 sites.

Neterion

Chip specialist Neterion will be demo’ing its IOQoS technology in Las Vegas this week. The vendor, which unveiled a family of adapters at last year’s VMworld show, is now ramping up its efforts around I/O virtualization, which enables 10-Gbit/s Ethernet in virtual environments.

“IOQoS is a technology that is complimentary to I/O virtualization,” says Philippe Levy, Neterion’s senior director of marketing. “IOQoS is basically guaranteeing bandwidth on independent silicon channels within the chip – you can have a dedicated piece of silicon within the chip that can map to virtual machines.”The IOQos software upgrade lets users guarantee bandwidth for workloads such as VMWare’s VMotion, iSCSI traffic, or various virtual machines, according to the exec.

“With Gigabit networks, what users typically do in virtualized environments is that they have dedicated Gigabit controllers,” he explains, adding that IOQoS removes this need for additional adapters. “It allows IT managers to do with 10-Gig what they did with Gigabit Ethernet, while consolidating into one bigger pipe.”

Last week the vendor announced that its entire line of Xframe and 3100 adapters will support IOQoS, and Levy told Byte and Switch that the technology is already gaining traction with Neterion’s partners.

“We have OEM partners who are going to implement IOQoS when they release their versions of our product,” explains the exec, but was unwilling to divulge the names of the companies involved.

GlassHouseGlassHouse will unveil a managed service for VMware environments in Las Vegas today.

”This is the ability to provide monitoring and reporting, as well as a fully managed service for VMware customers,” says Mitch Northcutt, GlassHouse’s vice president of strategy. “Through a GlassHouse interface that we have developed, users can do 24 by 7 monitoring out of our operations centers.”

As part of the service, GlassHouse will deploy a one rack-unit high ‘collector’ device at user sites which uses software from Tek-Tools to compile performance and utilization data from virtual machines and their hosts.

This could be, for example, CPU, memory, disk, and network performance data. “The key thing that we’re trying to do is equip IT support personnel and management with visibility into the performance, the usage, and capacity of their VMware infrastructure,” says Northcutt. “There’s a variety of tools that end-users can buy to do this if they have the expertise but we’re going to provide them with the expert guidance they need.”

The exec explained that the service, which is aimed at enterprises, service providers, and SMBs, will eventually be extended to Microsoft’s Hyper-V offering. “Hyper-V is definitely on the timeline – it will really be based on customer demand,” added Northcutt.Typically users deploy tools such as VMware’s Virtual Center to perform this type of virtualization monitoring and reporting, although GlassHouse claims to be the first to offer this type of managed service.

GlassHouse’s managed services for virtual environments are available today. The vendor has not finalized its specific pricing although Northcutt told Byte and Switch that this will be based on the number of host servers.

EMC

EMC will be demo’ing the recently announced enhancement to its Replication Manager software in Las Vegas this week, which it claims will help merge server and storage virtualization.

“We have integrated with VMware’s Virtual Center so that users can instantly backup and recover individual virtual machines, groups of virtual machines, and entire servers,” says Chad Sakac, EMC’s senior director of VMware alliances. “Because it’s integrated, it’s a lot simpler to figure out what’s where, but the really important thing is that it’s consistent with the VMs.”Previously, there was no coordination between the storage array snapshots and VMware, which caused a lot of complexity for users, according to Sakac.

The exec explained that Replication Manager can now be used to create test and development copies of applications that were running as VMs, and added that, previously, users would have to perform a lot of manual coding and scheduling to take snapshots of VMs.

“This point-in-time array-based snapshot has traditionally not been integrated with VMware, but now it is,” adds Sakac. “Our customers are adopting virtualization so broadly that we need to adapt and change how we build storage, how we build backup, and how we build management tools.”

The upgrade to Replication Manager version 5.1.2 is available now. Sakac said that for most customers, the upgrade license fee will be below $10,000 for unlimited use.

RadwareApplication acceleration specialist Radware will unveil its Virtual Director appliance this week, which checks Quality of Service (QoS), response times, and SLAs for data packets as they travel across the network.

“Once we have figured out that the application needs more resources, the Virtual Director will take action,” says Ilan Kinreich, the Radware COO. “We will instruct VMware, for example, to add more VMs for that application – we can act automatically.”

The Virtual Director works with Radware’s App Director device to control traffic, and can support up to 7,000 transactions per second, according to Kinreich, who said that Radware may extend its virtual reach within the next year.

“At the moment, we have integrated with VMware, in the future we might have plans to integrate with other virtual environments,” he said, explaining that this could happen during the next 12 months.

Pricing for the 1-rack unit-high Virtual Director, which is available in mid-October, starts at $30,000.FalconStor

Data protection specialist FalconStor announced its Network Storage Server (NSS) virtual appliance for VMware’s ESX Server and ESXi Server software, touting the ability to change direct-attached storage into an iSCSI virtual SAN appliance.

The vendor began offering a free downloadable version of the NSS virtual appliance today, in an attempt to boost the take-up of server and storage virtualization.

NetApp

NetApp was also busy in Nevada this week, announcing a slew of products encompassing virtual desktops, storage snapshots, replication and cloning.First up is NetApp Storage Solution for VMware VDI, which the vendor claims can provision hundreds of virtual desktops in minutes, and FlexClone, which can quickly clone virtual machines.

IBM

Virtual Desktops are also garnering attention in Las Vegas this week, as evidenced by IBM’s launch of its Virtual Storage Optimizer (VSO), which it claims can reduce the burden of storing virtual images thanks to an algorithm developed by the company’s researchers.

DataCore

SAN vendor DataCore unveiled enhancements to its SANmelody and SANsymphony software this week, including a management plug-in for VMware’s Virtual Center and certification with the latest version of VMware’s ESX Server.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.

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • DataCore Software Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • GlassHouse Technologies Inc.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Marathon Technologies Corp.

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Neterion Inc.

  • Radware Ltd. (Nasdaq: RDWR)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • VMware Inc.0

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