The latest versions of DataCore’s SANmelody 3.0 and SANsymphony 7.0 storage virtualization software were under preview at the recent VMWorld Europe 2009.

The products are due to be shipped later this month with 64 bit software architecture and various new features for virtual servers, writes Samantha Sai for

The company says SANSymphony is geared at enterprises aiming to virtualize their storage area networks, while SANmelody is for small Fiber Channel and iSCSI SANs of up to 32 TB.

The virtual disk pooling, synchronized mirroring for high availability, load balancing, thin provisioning and other advanced features are exciting and will be welcomed by enterprises using the software.

The 64 bit controller software supports large cache on the physical server up to a theoretical limit of 1 TB as against the earlier versions which supported only 20 GB cache.

Jack Fegreus, CEO of Southborough, Mass.-based OpenBench Labs, points out that a terabyte of cache is "at the far edge of reality for most normal sites today", but given Moore’s Law, "1TB of cache may well be average".

Today many organizations use as much as 256 GB of cache on average.

This increased cache implies that there will be a denser consolidation of servers into virtual machines and performance of VM backups may improve by minimizing I/O to disk.

The Transporter Option that comes with SANmelody and SANsymphony can also perform conversions between physical and virtual servers.

This feature is significant as a server can be converted from a physical Windows box to a Microsoft Corp.Hyper V Image and then to a VMware ESX image.

It can then be converted back to a logical unit Number (LUN) mapped to a physical server. This feature could be an advantage to people who are running multiple virtual servers with different operating systems.

Themis Tokkaris, systems engineer with Arizona-based pest control company Truly Nolen, says that "it is also an open idea", adding: "If I’m not happy with ESX in the future, I’m not stuck with it."

DataCore SAN offers its users the option of using a new free plug-in for VMWare Inc’s Virtual Infrastructure Client.

James Price, vice president of product and channel marketing at DataCore SAN, claims that it will offer "cleaner visibility and easier to understand mappings and paths".

He further points out that the upgrades will provide a way to reclaim free capacity on volumes using thin provisioning.

DataCore SAN is not alone in this storage virtualization space.

Many of the features offered by DataCore, such as 64 bit support, thin provisioning and so on, have been included in the packages of other vendors.

Symantec Corp, Double-Take Software Inc and others offer 64 bit support for the data protection space.

Compellent Technologies Inc also offered free space recovery for thin provisioning about a year ago. DataCore SAN’s offer, however, combines these features into a server-centric approach and appears to have set the trend for the future of networked storage solutions.

However, Fegreus says DataCore’s combining these features into a server-centric approach looks like the wave of the future for networked storage as integration increases between SANs and servers.

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