SANmelody Makes Music with Storage Area Networks

Capacity crunch? DataCore provides storage provisioning software that has businesses singing its praises.
With over a 1,000 licenses having been deployed worldwide, DataCore’s SANmelody is music to the ears of its clientele. Notable users include IKEA, Honda's Formula 1 racing team and Fidelity's Home Builder Financial Network, though the majority of sales continue to be to SMB accounts.

“SANmelody is software that you run on a PC/server and it transforms that server and its disks into a ‘disk server’ over a network,” says George Teixeira, CEO and president of DataCore Software Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, FL. “It takes minutes to install, set up and run, and it is the simplest way to implement a SAN.”

The software is hardware and link independent. It can perform in IP storage networking and Fibre Channel (FC) SAN environments. Users who want an easy-to-operate solution can utilize SANmelody as a disk server over their current LAN to manage and provision disk capacity. Likewise, the same functionality runs over FC.

“Many users utilize DataCore to do fast disk-to-disk backups, business continuance and disaster recovery for their systems, especially for Microsoft SQL and Exchange environments,” says Teixeira. “SANmelody runs on any Windows based platform and turns that platform into a disk server appliance that then can serve disks to systems running Linux, Windows, VMware, Netware, MAC OS, Solaris, UNIX, etc.”

Virtual capacity capabilities allow storage to be served automatically to servers that need more space without impacting applications. As a result, servers don’t have to be stopped to add more disks. Further, by deploying two or more SANmelody servers, users can create high availability and disaster recovery architectures that can copy and protect data locally or across the world.

An auto-provisioning capability known as ‘Auto-Grow’ lets users serve up logical disk volumes that are sized from gigabytes to terabytes. To application servers, these 'virtual capacity' volumes appear, perform and work like any other locally attached disk. The difference is that the actual physical disk capacity is drawn from a storage pool on an as-needed basis to ensure optimal disk space utilization.

"The current manual approaches for provisioning storage often require hours not seconds to create volumes and make them available to an application or an end user," says Jon William Toigo, CEO of Toigo Partners International in Tampa Bay, FL. "Many of the newer virtualization products on the market require users to lock in to a specific hardware vendor's 'solution set' and concerns remain over whose hardware can be included in the hardware-based virtualization scheme. DataCore's approach is superior.”

Recently, DataCore made several improvements to SANmelody. iSCSI Boot from SAN allows blade server to go diskless in each blade. SANmotion is a capability to enable complete disk systems to be set up by admins and then shipped over the LAN to users. In addition, a SANmaestro option allows users to monitor, report, analyze and optimize their Windows platforms and their SAN. Thus admins can track and trend changes across many systems.

“We are also planning to release Continuous Data Protection capabilities that will let users travel back in time to any time point to restore systems and recover files/e-mails in the event of corruption/deletes/virus attacks,” says Teixeira. “SANmelody delivers true parity for iSCSI to match Fibre Channel SAN features and covers all the critical functionality needs that were previously unavailable to IP SAN users.”

Some of these features include: enhanced Windows Disk Volume Administration enabling pre-formatted Windows NTFS/FAT file and data disks to be served to systems from a central point via iSCSI ; simplified backup and rapid disaster recovery support for all Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) aware applications (i.e., SQL Server, Exchange 2003, Windows 2003 files); easy data migration - provision, re-purpose or migrate and move new and pre-existing Windows data volumes over iSCSI; IP SAN and Network Attached Storage (NAS filer) platform co-existence, plus performance acceleration for disks served to NAS engines (e.g., Windows Storage Server NAS); rapid emergency recovery and diskless boot support for iSCSI IP SANs; iSCSI support for Microsoft Clusters, virtual servers (e.g., VMware) and blade servers; automated Virtual Capacity provisioning and network storage services over iSCSI; and business critical iSCSI end-to-end high-availability i.e. iSCSI synchronous fail-over mirroring, Microsoft MPIO multi path I/O, asynchronous IP replication and fast disk-to-disk recovery.

“I am hard pressed to think of any other storage software vendor who offers anything close to DataCore in terms of giving users so much choice on which vendor's disks and hardware to use," says Toigo.

Pricing starts at $199 for home or very small office users. For businesses the starting point is around $1,000 for low cost Ethernet iSCSI storage networks. For larger scale environments the costs move into the $30,000 range.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.






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