Symantec Drifts Into Xen

Inks OEM deal with XenSource, and fires a shot across the bows of EMC

July 24, 2007

3 Min Read
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Storage management specialist Symantec joined forces with virtualization vendor XenSource today in the latest attempt to tie storage and server virtualization together. (See XenSource Signs Symantec OEM.)

The vendors announced an OEM deal to embed Symantec's Storage Foundation product line, which includes its Volume Manager software, into XenSource's flagship XenEnterprise offering. (See Storage Software Grows, Symantec Launches Storage United, XenSource Unveils 3.2, and XenSource Exceeds 500 Customers.)

Specifically, Volume Manager will run on the device driver software that sits on top of the XenSource hypervisor. "The purpose of this will be to provide unified server and storage management," says John Bara, XenSource's vice president of marketing, explaining that the Volume Manager can control workloads on both virtual servers and storage.

The two vendors are also planning to do joint testing and certification of Veritas NetBackup running on virtual servers. (See Symantec Unveils NetBackup 6.5 and Symantec Bolsters Backup.)

The Symantec features will be sold as part of the standard XenEnterprise license, which costs $750 for a dual socket server, according to Bara. These will be available sometime in the third or fourth quarter, he adds.XenSource's Bara was unable to point to any customers that are beta testing the technology, although he says that there will be some reference sites available later this year.

The move is another example of the converging worlds of storage and server virtualization. Recent months have seen HBA vendors look to tie the two technologies together, while XenSource and rival Virtual Iron have already added iSCCI support to their software. (See XenSource Reveals Upgrade, Virtual Iron Dangles iSCSI Savings, Virtual HBAs Hitch Servers & Storage, 3Leaf Teams With Emulex, and QLogic Sets Record With SANblade.)

Virtual Iron also announced a joint marketing deal with SAN specialist Compellent last month, while Sanbolic and Tout Virtual have been busy bolstering their Microsoft virtualization stories. (See Compellent, Virtual Iron Team, Storage Virtualization Edges On, Sanbolic Simplifies Virtual Server, and ToutVirtual Offered With Microsoft.)

At least one analyst thinks the XenSource/Symantec deal has some differentiating aspects. "The biggest thing that users get from this is access to a storage layer on the hypervisor that is already proven in the market," says James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester. "It could reduce system failures."

Because Symantec's Volume Manager is already widely deployed for handling storage, Staten feels that the OEM deal spells good news for CIOs and IT managers looking to add virtualization. "Given that the underlying Volume Manager is something that they are familiar with, their testing burden is much lower."Although virtualization giant VMware has its own volume manager technology and a partner program with storage vendors, Staten says that it is not as widely deployed as Symantec's offering. "With VMware, it's [potentially] a brand new volume manager, a brand new virtualization layer," he says. "I have to make sure that it works with all my storage environment."

The analyst nonetheless urges users not to see the Symantec/Xensource deal as some sort of silver bullet for their storage virtualization. "There's nobody's storage environment that just includes these two products," he says. "There will be some additional testing to do, but it will be less than testing VMware or XenSource by itself."

The deal is also a clear indication of Symantec's future virtualization strategy, according to Staten. "This is Symantec picking sides," he says, explaining that EMC, which owns VMware, has started to encroach on Symantec's core security business. (See EMC Still Rules VMware, EMC Secures RSA for $2.1B, RSA, EMC Integrate, EMC, Cisco Team for Encryption, EMC Secures Verid, and EMC Plans Product Blitz.)

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Compellent Technologies Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • Forrester Research Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Sanbolic Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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