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Symantec Claims 30 Times Faster Server Failover For Windows Applications

Symantec is introducing a new version of its storage management suite for Microsoft Windows environments that, among other things, reduces server failover times from an average of 30 minutes to as little as 1 minute. Veritas Storage Foundation High Availability (SFHA) 6.0 for Windows manages both physical and virtual servers running Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor. Failover time is improved by detecting server failure more quickly using asynchronous monitoring and notification instead of the traditional polling-based monitoring.

Version 6.0 replaces polling--in which the server frequently checks with the application to make sure it has the computing resources it needs--with what Symantec calls an Intelligent Network Framework (IMF). It is already a feature of Symantec’s Unix line of management software, says V. Don Angspatt, VP of product management for the Storage and Availability Management Group.

"The problem is that polling takes time, but it also consumes CPU cycles. And so as more CPU cycles are consumed, then that aggravates the failure detection time even more. So now, you’ve all of a sudden just made things a lot worse," Angspatt says. With the IMF approach, there’s an agent framework within the network that registers all the resources, and then the framework is immediately notified when there’s a change of state, he says.

Veritas SFHA 6.0 also reduces failover time by avoiding the time-consuming tasks associated with connecting a new server to the storage array that was connected to the failed server, such as scanning the storage disks and importing disk groups. Instead, it uses what Symantec calls "multi-node disk group access," which means that all the server nodes in a cluster can see the storage all the time, Angspatt explains.

Other features of the new version include automated end-to-end disaster recovery for Windows Hyper-V virtual environments and Hyper-V Storage Live Migration, which moves virtual storage assets as needed in a data center. Angspatt compares it to VMware’s VMotion for moving virtual servers to different physical servers.

The SFHA 6.0 also includes Veritas Operations Manager (VOM), which is a management console that controls all assets in both the physical and virtual environment. The Windows software introduction follows Symantec’s introduction in October of Storage Foundation and Availability Management software portfolio, also version 6.0. Symantec is touting the Windows portfolio, as it did with Storage Foundation, as a tool for the delivery and management of business services to a company--such as billing, finance, payroll and order fulfillment--instead of just looking at IT as applications running on servers connected to databases and storage.

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