VMware Makes Storage Push

Vendor touts software upgrade, but users are looking for more disaster recovery

December 12, 2007

3 Min Read
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Just a day after teaming up with EMC to support Invista, VMware took the wraps off its souped-up Infrastructure 3 software, which represents a major push into storage.

The new Infrastructure 3 software includes VMware's ESX Server 3.5, Virtual Center 2.5, and Storage VMotion, a storage version of the vendor VMotion server migration product.

"We're seeing a healthy demand for Storage VMotion," says John Gilmartin, VMware's senior manager of product marketing, explaining that the software lets users shift virtual machines from one storage location to another. "I think that people are looking to reduce their maintenance windows on their applications -- it's about reducing downtime and planned downtime."

VMware would not reveal how many beta customers have been testing Infrastructure 3, although one early adopter says that he is using Storage VMotion as part of a major virtualization effort.

"Based on the testing that we have done, it's really useful," said Noah Johnson, senior systems engineer at Portland, Ore.-based truck manufacturer Freightliner, which has more than 80 Tbytes of storage, of which about 30 Tbytes is used for virtualization. "When you're looking at the large environment that we have, doing a frame migration from one storage frame to another usually requires an outage."Despite these benefits, Johnson says that there is one area that he would like VMware to address. "We have about 50 percent of our environment virtualized, so having disaster recovery built into ESX Server would make DR more of an automatic thing than it is right now," he says.

VMware discussed building DR into ESX Server during its recent VMworld show, but this cannot come soon enough, according to Johnson. "That's something that I would like to start testing as soon as possible, so that I can start showing more benefits from this virtual infrastructure."

Other users agree that this should be a priority for VMware. "We can do DR today, but it requires a lot of manual intervention and a lot of scripting to make that happen with your storage side and your VMware side," says Shane Yoder, enterprise systems manager of Dickinson, N.D.based cabinet manufacturing firm TMI Systems Design Corporation. "With this new application, it would be just the push of a button."

Other virtualization vendors are already focusing their attention on disaster recovery. VMware's rival Virtual Iron, for example, enhanced the disaster recovery capabilities within its eponymous software earlier this week.

Despite today's announcement, VMware and Invista are slightly out of sync with their release cycles. Infrastructure 3, for example, contains the latest version of ESX Server, 3.5, whereas EMC certified an earlier version of the product, ESX Server 3.0.2, on its Invista solution yesterday."VMware and EMC have a lot of work to do to get their release cycles synchronized, but there is a benefit in having them separate," says Johnson. "It means that VMware is not being dictated to by a parent company."

Other enhancements within Infrastructure 3 include support for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and InfiniBand on ESX Server 3.5, which are expected to fuel demand for iSCSI.

HBA vendor QLogic also announced today that its SANblade HBAs will support Infrastructure 3.

Compared to server virtualization, uptake of storage virtualization has been relatively slow, although more and more vendors are jumping into this space.

VMware's arch rival XenSource is already in bed with storage vendor Symantec, recently announcing a deal to embed Symantec's Storage Foundation product line into XenEnterprise.Pricing for VMware's Infrastructure 3, which is available today, starts at $995 for two processors. A high-end version of the product, which contains Storage VMotion, is priced at $5,750 for two processors.

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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