DataCore Software Corp. today updated its SANsymphony-V10 storage virtualization software to boost performance and scalability, add quality of service capabilities and provide tighter integration with Microsoft Azure cloud services.
The company originally shipped generation 10 of its SANsymphony-V software -- which it now refers to as software-defined storage and virtual SAN -- in May. The DataCore software runs on standard x86 servers and manages the capacity of their internal disk and/or solid-state drives (SSDs) as a shared storage pool.
One of the key features in the SANsymphony-V10 PSP1 update is the random write accelerator. DataCore said the new technology converts random writes into sequential writes to improve the performance of write-intensive workloads such as databases, ERP and online transaction processing systems, and workloads that use RAID 5 data protection.
Jon Toigo, CEO and managing principal at Toigo Partners International LLC, said DataCore could also position the random write accelerator to address the performance-degrading I/O blender phenomenon. The I/O blender effect occurs when multiple virtual machines try to write data at the same time.
"It's basically doing some log-file structuring and some write coalescence that turns a whole bunch of random writes into sequential writes so that you speed up the performance of your storage," said Toigo, who is a user of DataCore software.
Updates boost performance, management
Augie Gonzalez, director of product marketing at DataCore, said Iometer testing of 100% random write workloads with a 4K block size showed 33 times faster performance, with low-cost SATA hard disk drives (HDDs) running on Dell servers. According to Gonzalez, using identical test conditions, the random-write-accelerated SATA HDDs outperformed multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs that did not use the new "turbo charger" feature.
Gonzalez said, when using the random write accelerator, the SSDs also saw performance 3.6 times faster than without the write accelerator. The acceleration technology, coupled with the product's caching mechanism, also helps to reduce the write-induced wear-out factor of SSDs, he said.
SANsymphony-V10 PSP1 increases the maximum number of server nodes supported in hyper-converged configurations from 32 to 64. That allows customers to spread workloads across more servers in a cluster to boost throughput. The company said each server can support more than 1 million IOPS, and the extra scalability can be especially helpful with distributed latency-sensitive applications and large virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments.
"Let's say the production cluster is running out of space," Gonzalez said. "Before this customer can stand up another server and put more storage on it, they've got to get over this afternoon's processing window. Their test and dev cluster has extra space. Normally those two couldn't touch each other. In the case of DataCore, having a common storage pool, we can basically loan that production cluster some temporary capacity."
SANsymphony-V10 PSP1 also introduces quality of service (QoS) controls to enable customers to manage and regulate the system to ensure that low-priority workloads don't monopolize resources that more critical applications need. The new release features host group access control to let administrators assign different application hosts to different segments of the storage pool.
"The combination allows you to segregate local partitions of the data to where you need it but also to remap it when you need to," DataCore CEO George Teixeira said.
Gonzalez noted that DataCore's QoS applies not only to capacity but also to Fibre Channel and iSCSI connections with the host. With PSP1, the company has added utilization tracking capabilities and chargeback reports to enable customers to manage their storage infrastructure as a private cloud.
Another new option in SANsymphony-V10 is the ability to have a standby node to enable full performance during software updates, equipment refreshes and maintenance tasks or to offload responsibilities from an overtaxed node. The product already supported automatic failover between nodes in the event of a storage or device failure, but there was a performance impact. DataCore customers will now have the option to shift workloads to a standby node without disrupting the applications or degrading performance and throughput.
Teixeira said the standby node will be especially helpful for customers such as banks or hospitals that use metro clusters or metro mirroring stretching across different locations. While this type of feature traditionally appeals to customers with no tolerance for failure, and who are willing to pay for an extra server to get an even higher level of availability, falling server prices could bring it to more midmarket IT organizations.
DataCore looks to public cloud for backup and DR
With the PSP1 update, DataCore also gives customers additional options to send data to public cloud storage for off-site backups, archives and disaster recovery. The company tightly integrated and certified its SANsymphony-V10 to work with on-premises Microsoft StorSimple hybrid cloud arrays, which can serve as a bridge to Microsoft's Azure public cloud storage.
"One of the advantages we bring to Microsoft is that their array only works with iSCSI storage," Teixeira said. "We work with both Fibre Channel and iSCSI, so we can virtualize all the storage on-premises, whether it is Fibre Channel or iSCSI based, and we can automatically tier and migrate it to the StorSimple gateway."
DataCore already supported EMC's TwinStrata hybrid cloud arrays, which can transfer data to other public cloud storage providers such as Amazon, Google and Verizon. But Teixeira said he is especially focused on Windows Azure because the service caters to business use involving databases such as Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange Server.
"When we talk to our customers, what they're looking for is a rock-solid commercial capability out there, and Windows Azure seems to be that platform for most of them," Teixeira said. "So, getting it jointly certified was key for us. I think it's probably where we're going to see the most pickup from our customer base."
SANsymphony-V10 PSP1 is a free update for DataCore customers under maintenance contracts.
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