IBM Dials Up Long-Distance Recovery

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IBM on Thursday unveiled a major upgrade to its storage virtualization software, adding the ability to replicate data at faster speeds across greater distances.

SAN Volume Controller 4.1 (SVC) aggregates data lodged in storage arrays from IBM, EMC and Hitachi Data Systems, among others, copies it, and recalls that data on the fly.

Technologies that copy data in real time as it moves across a SAN are popular these days. IDC noted in its fourth quarter storage software report that storage replication grew 21.7 percent from a year ago.

Chris Saul, SVC marketing manager at IBM, said Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters are forcing businesses to look for ways to reliably restore data from data centers that exist hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

Saul noted that the last version of this software, SVC 3.1, employed synchronous replication technology called Metro Mirror that was capable of virtualizing data up to 100 miles.

SVC 4.1 builds on the Metro Mirror code with Global Mirror, a new asynchronous remote replication utility that allows customers to quickly virtualize and reproduce data at data centers across almost unlimited distances, Saul said.

In SVC 4.1, Metro and Global Mirror are offered as a single feature at no additional licensing fee for existing Metro Mirror users.

Saul said that while rivals such as EMC use asynchronous replication in its storage disk arrays, IBM is the first major vendor to take such technology to accelerate and improve the coverage area of virtualization software.

While EMC’s Invista network virtualization software does not have native asynchronous replication built in, the company is heading there.

EMC recently agreed to acquire Kashya to attain and absorb such remote replication capabilities.

SVC 4.1 also includes a new SVC engine that supports four gigabits per second (Gbps) fabric from vendors such as Brocade and McData, bringing it up to speed with other storage products in the market.

Customers already using SVC will be able to upgrade from their current 2Gbps speeds to 4Gbps. Saul said IBM anticipates customers who opt for this upgrade will enjoy a 20 to 30 percent boost in throughput over previous SVC implementations.

The new software also includes Cluster Non-Disruptive Upgrade, a feature that lets customers replace current SVC engines in side an SVC cluster with engines without disrupting applications.

“It’s rather like giving somebody a heart transplant while continuing to engage in a conversation with them at the same time,” Saul said.

Lastly, Saul said SVC 4.1 now virtualizes data on Hitachi’s TagmaStore, and HP’s OpenVMS, as well as IBM’S own DS4700 array, and Network Appliance FAS storage systems. IBM already supports EMC’s Clariion and Symmetrix systems.

IBM SVC 4.1 will be available on June 23, with pricing starting at $42,500.

IBM will kick off an early support program for Global Mirror on the same day, with general availability of the feature scheduled for September 8.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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