Today's focus: Digging into IBM's SAN virtualization software,
Part 1

By Mike Karp

IBM is continuing to roll out its storage-area networking
virtualization software, and last week added support for
third-party vendors to its TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller
(see link below).

But its customers and competitors had to wait quite a while for
IBM's homegrown virtualization software to enter the market. In
the interim, many customers that were traditionally IBM storage
shops used DataCore's SANSymphony and FalconStor's IPStor with
their IBM arrays. Often they were quite happy, and while the
wheels at IBM's R&D group continued to turn slowly, many
customers learned that virtualized storage offered them an
efficient and economical way to get increased value out of their
IT investment.

Clearly, the marketplace has been made ready, and so, at last,
has IBM. In the fourth quarter of 2003, IBM's own virtualization
products began appearing in IT shops. The company's
Virtualization Engine for Storage, under development for several
years, is part of IBM TotalStorage Open Software Family, and
comes in three interdependent parts: the TotalStorage
Productivity Center, the TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller
(SVC), and the TotalStorage SAN File System.

I reported on the Productivity Center offerings last April (see
link below). Now it's time for an overview of SVC and later this
week we will turn to the SAN File System.

SVC's job is to add flexibility to the SAN infrastructure by
creating a single pool of storage from multiple arrays, making
changes to the storage without disrupting host applications,
providing replication and data migration services, and managing
the storage pool from a central point. SVC is now in its third
generation, and the large number of success stories on the
corporate Web site indicates that IBM has achieved success (and
happy customers) in several industries.

Right now, the software's capabilities include data migration,
point-to-point remote copy and Flash Copy across the SAN, SMI-S
support for interoperability with other vendors' products,
clustering support for IBM's High Availability Clustered Multi
Processing (HCMP) and Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS). Earlier
versions had very limited support for non-IBM hardware, but that
is improving to the point where IBM now can manage a set of
hardware from EMC (including Clariion and Symmetrix), HDS and HP
(larger arrays), plus software from Red Hat, Sun and VMware.

An interesting proof point for this was provided by a French
customer, who managed to install an IBM Shark array and the SVC
software, migrate data from an AS/400 to the Shark, add storage
from an EMC array to the storage pool, and get a system with 20
servers and 1 terabyte of data up and running in two-and-a-half

As more and more storage is allocated to SANs, SVC can be
expected to play an increasingly important role in IBM's drive
towards providing on-demand storage.

Next time, we will consider how this works with the newest
version of the company's SAN File System.

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2004

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Copyright 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008