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Storage Vendors Show Support For VMware APIs

A number of storage vendors have lined up to support VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). The new APIs, which are designed to provide better integration with third-party storage systems, were announced as part of VMware's vSphere 4.1 release. Storage vendors, such as  Compellent Technologies, CommVault, EMC, Emulex, and Hitachi Data Systems say that their storage products support or will support VAAI. The APIs should improve performance by offloading some storage functionality, such as creating copies and creating virtual machines, onto hardware. In addition, VMware claims VAAI offers up to a tenfold improvement in scalability.

The result is that VMware is likely to be used in more mission-critical, high-performance applications and achieve broader use in the enterprise, says Stuart Miniman, principal research contributor for the Wikibon Project. "The main thing the announcement is doing is increasing the performance of the VMware storage solution," he says. "VMware started out in the development environment and has been moving up the stack to more mission-critical applications."

The APIs offer three areas of performance improvement, according to Chad Sakac, EMC's vice president of the VMware Technology Alliance. First, virtual machines can be created two to 10 times faster. Second, creating copies within vSphere happens two to 10 times faster. Third, the number of VMs in a data store that can be supported will go from the tens to the hundreds. Sakac also notes that API integration improves performance by reducing the amount of network traffic by up to 99 percent, which means vendors can consolidate more virtual machines into the same environment.

Numerous vendors have announced support  for the new APIs. Compellent's Fluid Data storage platforms have been certified, as has CommVault's Simpana software. Emulex's Host Bus Adapters and network adapters support the software. Hitachi's Adaptable Modular Series 2000 also supports the new version. EMC, which owned VMware until 2007, when it spun it out in an initial product offering, and still owns 88 percent of the company, says the storage integration will be available as a free software upgrade for Clariion CX4 and Celerra NSX unified storage systems. The APIs will be built in to all EMC's storage operating environment within the next few months. NetApp says its Virtual Storage Console lets users manage all NetApp storage for VMware environments from the VMware vCenter Server console. 3Par says it supports vSphere 4.1 and will ship the 3PAR Plug-in for VMware VAAI in September.

In addition to the VAAI and vSphere 4.1 announcements, VMware also changed its pricing. Small and medium-size business pricing starts at $83 per processor. Full enterprise editions start at $3,495 per processor. This cuts the price significantly for SMBs, says Wikibon's Miniman. However, pricing for management plug-ins has now moved from per-process to per-virtual machine, which means that users may see higher prices for popular plug-ins such as Site Recovery Manager.