A growing number of vendors are offering "storage hypervisors" that virtualize the storage and, in some cases, their associated file servers to create scalable, flexible pools of storage. This virtualization layer often runs on standard x86 servers and is optimized for specific functions, storage protocols or applications. One example is DataCore Software's SANsymphony-V, which links to VMware's vCenter to automatically discover VMware servers running in a customer's environment. A systems administrator can then associate a given class of storage with various servers, and SANsymphony automatically provisions it.
Hosting and integration services firm Amnet Technology Solutions has been using SANsymphony for close to three years, and senior technologist Rich Conway says the product has provided "absolutely phenomenal" redundancy. "The entire storage infrastructure was essentially mirrored, where both sides are active/active, and if any component of either side fails for any reason, our entire grid stays up and our customers don't even notice," he says. SANsymphony has also enabled Amnet to eliminate planned downtime for routine maintenance such as firmware upgrades, says Conway...