EMC has been lagging competitors such as IBM and Hitachi in block-based storage virtualization, but the company hopes to change that with Invista 2.0.
EMC's SAN virtualization product combines application software and hardware with intelligent switches from Brocade and Cisco to provide "non-disruptive data mobility," said Rob Emsley, EMC senior director of software product marketing.
Emsley described Invista 2.0 as a "watershed" event in EMC's virtualization development efforts. "Block-based virtualization is just starting to get traction," compared to the more established file virtualization market, he said.
Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Tony Asaro said EMC "is waking up and realizing that there is a storage virtualization market." Noting that IBM has reached 10,000 installations with its SVC product after starting out primarily with existing customers and IBM storage systems, he said, "All EMC has to do is to go after their existing customer base and it will be a successful product."
The new version of Invista includes higher availability, greater scalability and improved management, along with stronger VMware integration.
Purdue University is one of about 200 Invista customers. Michael Rubesch, director of infrastructure for Purdue's Office of Information Technology, said the Indiana-based university didn't spend much time looking at block-based virtualization products before settling on Invista. "We have a fair amount of EMC gear, so it was a natural fit for us," he said.
Invista has helped the university migrate from Symmetrix DMX-2 to DMX-3 arrays and add Clariion arrays to create a tiered storage environment. With an environment that's grown from 9TB to 220TB in seven years with only two storage admins, "Invista's been very helpful" coping with all that growth, said Rubesch.
Invista's been easy to implement and Rubesch likes the direction it's heading in, but he said the product needs better integration with EMC ControlCenter management software, which can't yet display Invista targets.
EMC has boosted Invista's availability with a new distributed control path cluster (CPC) architecture, which lets the nodes of the CPC be separated by campus distances for continuous operation in case of localized failures.
EMC has also doubled the number of virtual volumes and storage elements and boosted the number of simultaneous mobility sessions by a factor of five, from eight to 40. With front- and back-end load balancing, EMC has also improved performance and throughput.
Heterogeneous pooling and mirroring helps customers manage tiered storage environments by assigning applications to storage levels based on their importance. EMC has also added support for IBM DS4000 series arrays, HP PVLinks and SUN MPxIO path management software, along with EMC RecoverPoint integration for replication.
Bryan Byun, VMware vice president of global partners and solutions, said Invista and VMware Infrastructure integration "helps to deliver the benefits of 'flat IT,' where a customer's significant changes can be coherently managed and handled online without disruption to servers, networks or storage."
Pricing for Invista starts at about $100,000. Invista 2.0 is available now, while version 2.1 which includes heterogeneous mirroring and storage pooling will be available later this month, along with Invista support for VMware ESX Server 3.0.2, which will be posted to the VMware SAN Compatibility Guide.