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Storage Virtualization | FAQs & Discussions

Can I Use Storage Virtualization Products with HP EVA Storage?

The answer depends primarily on the storage virtualization vendor's support for the EVA platform. For instance, with SANsymphony™ from DataCore Software Corporation, the answer is a definitive "Yes. SANsymphony can be used to virtualize any and all of HP's storage products."

SANsymphony is a Storage Virtualization software package that runs as a set of services on standard Windows 2003 on common x86 server hardware. From the EVA's perspective, SANsymphony is nothing more than an application running on a Windows server. If you're an HP shop, you would probably install SANsymphony on Windows 2003 R2 running on a DL380, DL385, DL580, or DL585... G2, G3, G4, G5, Gee whiz. If Windows runs on the platform, so will DataCore, so the new 385 G5's will work fine.

SANsymphony Virtualizes HP EVA and MSA Storage Environments

HP has an excellent product line. Their Proliant series makes an excellent server platform for virtualization products from companies like VMWare or DataCore. And their MSA series can be used effectively with SANmelody to build outrageously high-performance SAN storage arrays. The one thing that seems to be lacking in the HP product line is a Storage Virtualization story. That's where SANsymphony comes in. SANsymphony implements In-Band Virtualization. It's like adding a new layer of cache between your EVA and your Application Servers.

SANsymphony works brilliantly with HP EVA storage and can provide a rich feature set the EVA doesn't have. You can do synch or asynch mirroring between any EVA and any other EVA or MSA storage. That's right, you can replicate between an EVA 4000 and an MSA-60. You can take snapshots of your EVA 5000 production volumes, storing the snapshots on Thin-Provisioned volumes on any other storage, including the internal P400-attached drives on the SANsymphony server. It's a very sophisticated and powerful Storage Virtualization platform.

And it runs on a standard Windows x86 platform, such as the Proliant series sold and supported by HP.

What About Inter-Compatibiity? I Want One Neck To Wring If I Have A Problem.

Like HP, DataCore is a member of the Technical Support Alliance Network, or TSANet (http://www.tsanet.org). If you have a current support contract with HP for your EVA and a current support contract with DataCore for SANsymphony, TSANet has got you covered. TSANet is a consortium of vendors that agree not to point fingers: they'll resolve your inter-operability issue without telling you "We don't support Vendor-X."

DataCore, HP, HDS, Microsoft, VMWare, QLogix, Emulex... all members of TSANet. The member roster is extensive. Visit their website for a complete list of members. The members pay their TSANet dues, and you, the customer, get the TSANet service for free.

So How Does TSANet Work? What Happens When I Have A Problem?

Since you probably found this article by an Internet search on "HP, EVA, SANsymphony", let's use that as an example. Let's suppose you decide to deploy SANsymphony with an EVA 8000 and EVA 6000 at one site, and perhaps SANmelody with a few MSA-60 shelves attached to a P800 on a DL385 G5 at an alternate site for a DR project.

Let's say you have a failure. Most often, failures in an in-band virtualized SAN show up first on the In-Band Virtualization Engine and/or on a particular Application Server. Maybe a GBIC goes out on a switch or HBA. If the GBIC is zoned with SANsymphony, You'll see it show up as an error in SANsymphony's alert management console.

Who ya gonna call? DataCore's Customer Support. Your call will be addressed by a competent SAN storage engineer, someone who has already worked with HP EVA storage. They'll ask you (or they'll help you retrieve) the SANsymphony trace logs on the targets. They'll analyze them using their "Log Jam" program. They'll tell you they suspect a GBIC on the switch. They'll help you figure out which one and implement the workaround.

As you know, HP never stops asking the question "What if?"... What if it's a problem on a storage processor on the HP EVA? If the DataCore Customer Support engineers determine the problem to be with the EVA 6000, they'll ask you to open a support ticket with HP.

That means, "Let's open a TSANet incident." You open the ticket with HP, you give DataCore's Customer Support the ticket number: DataCore will take over and drive the HP incident on your behalf, copying you on the email exchanges.

With TSANet, the participating engineers aren't "Hot-Liners". They're at least Level-2. The idea is that if you open a TSANet ticket, the engineers at DataCore expect to talk with competent HP engineers that actually know a two or thing about Fibre Channel and iSCSI. They'll resolve your incident.

DataCore Has Many EVA References

DataCore has numerous customers virtualizing HP storage, and even the HDS storage that HP OEM's for their top of the line arrays. I've personally deployed SANsymphony 6.0 in large shops, where the customers typically are looking for cost-effective Thin Provisioning and Asynchronous Replication features; the EVA is providing the underlying raw storage that SANsymphony is virtualizing.

For More Information

Las Solanas Consulting is not a DataCore nor an HP reseller. This paper is provided for infomrational purposes only.

Please contact DataCore™ or a DataCore™ reseller for pricing and purchasing information.