You've virtualized CPUs and Memory, why not gain the same/addiational benefits by visualizing SAN storage
April 06, 2019

You've virtualized CPUs and Memory, why not gain the same/addiational benefits by visualizing SAN storage

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with SANsymphony

I have assisted various organizations to implement this product as well am currently using DataCore's SANsympnony product in my home lab and place of employment. We have 20 DataCore storage server across the enterprise, at 9 different locations with over 2 PBs of storage.

This solution allows the use of off-the-shelf hardware and charges by the TB of storage. So we can throw in our own enterprise-class hardware (including SSDs) and not pay any extra based on the type of storage we use. This is the same model used with server virtualization. Keep the hardware separate from software. This is true "storage virtualization" at its finest. The software over the years has matured to be very robust and allows you to build a very high performing storage platform. It has all the features of any high-end SAN such as fiber channel, iSCSI, thin provisioning, storage tiering, snapshots, continuous data protection/recovery synchronous and asynchronous mirroring, performance reporting/graphing, true HA design.
  • No more vendor lock-in, overpriced drives or forklift upgrades. With DataCore SANsymphony, you can utilize just about any storage you wish with this product such as another SAN, NAS, JBOD, FusionIO, etc. If Windows can see it as a non-removable drive, you can use it with SANsymphony. Also, you can use this to mirror any of these various types of storage which is awesome for migration. Say you have an HP SAN and you want to migrate off it to your own JBOD type storage or you have 2 sites with 2 different storage SANs that you want to replicate data between. With DataCore, it is possible to mix and match just about any storage platform you want to use.
  • As software-defined storage, the system is designed to run on top of Windows Server OS (which can be virtual or physical) and can utilize the server's RAM to provide disk cache. This makes our 7.2K HDDs class storage run really fast and allows us to use a bottom tier class of drive and get the performance of a much higher class of drive. Also if we have to add capacity or replace drives we can just order replacement drives off the web saving us quite a bit of money. Of course, we still use "enterprise-class" drives but we don't pay through the nose to buy hardware. If we want to upgrade the Ethernet ports from 1Gb to 10Gb we just do it. Same goes for FC. If we want to upgrade from 4Gb FC to 16Gb, we don't have to do a forklift upgrade. We just buy the HBAs and we're off the to races.
  • The other great thing is DataCore keeps their product on VMware's approve HCL. So even if you have a SAN (backend storage) that falls off the HCL with VMware, because it's virtualized storage behind DataCore, your covered. If you put the storage behind DataCore you won't have to worry about VMware's HCL any longer. Because of this fundamental practice, DataCore was one of the first storage vendors to support vVOLs.
  • The ability to pool the storage to leverage thin-provisioning is a huge savings in space and costs.
  • DataCore Support is OUTSTANDING and they release new updates and features frequently (sometimes almost too frequently)
  • There's very little that I can find in their software that I would say needs to be improved. Sometimes the updates are too frequent and just as we finish updating all our sites another update comes out. Due to the many, many various options for what hardware to use, sometimes it is difficult trying to figure out what hardware options are the best for the money. DataCore can help a bit with this but because they only are the software side of the solution they tend to not prefer one hardware vendor over another (they get along with everyone). They do have good documentation that covers known issues with various hardware items.
  • While they support de-dup, it is recommended that you not de-dup the storage used for operating systems, or high change rated type data. The requires some planning to ensure the storage that is targeted for de-dup only have data that end users would be using (such as MS Office files etc.). Also, their de-dup console is not yet integrated inside their main SANsymphony console. They are working on it but it's not there yet.
  • While their console allows you to connect to each of the nodes without closing the interface you have to log out and in when you switch between a different storage server groups. It would be nice if they had an interface more like vCenter to where you see all server group in a list and can just click on each group. It would be nice to be able to see multiple groups at the same time. So having more of an Enterprise approach (v/s a local storage cluster) view would provide better management of the environment. For example, their current reports can only run for each storage server group. There is currently not a way to run the same reports or look at performance across the enterprise (only the local site).
  • Having an enterprise "Storage Dashboard" that could show capacity, usage, performance and any issues would also be very beneficial. Currently, DataCore does not have this.
  • More uptime - Typical SANs have redundant controllers, redundant power supply's and can make the drives redundant by leveraging RAID-0, 5, 6, and 10. The claim to be HA but they are not. That is because if I spay water all over them or catch the SAN on fire, the storage will go down. With DataCore's solution we have identical systems (maybe even at different datacenters connected with long-haul-fiber) including duplicate storage. So one side of the solution can totally be taken offline by water, fire, etc. and the other side will remain up providing true-HA storage. Because of this, we can upgrade the SANs during the day and still keep storage services running (zero-downtime).
  • Lower Costs - Ability to use 3rd party hardware which lowers the costs, not only for the initial investment but as storage capacity grows.
  • All the features one can want - High Availability, Thin Provisioning, Asynchronous and Synchronous mirroring/replication, snap-shotting, continues data protection, deduplication, storage reporting, trending with graphs, centralized console for easier management and many more.
We reviewed DotHill, EMC, HP, Dell-Compliant, Left-Hand, NetApp and VMware's vSAN offerings and after reviewing costs, performance, and features, DataCore came out on top. We discovered that DataCore's solution allowed us to save about 50%, as compared to other SAN vendors but maintained a rich set of features that we needed for current and future growth.
Now that you have virtualized your server's CPU and memory resources, you should look to do the same for your storage. Separation of hardware and software has many added benefits not only for CPUs and memory but for storage as well. Without this solution, we would not have been able to afford black-box type SANs at every location. This allowed us to virtualize over 90% of the server environment saving costs and power consumption/cooling and provides all the features costly black-box SANs, including true-HA (which most SAN vendors don't have). Migration from variant SAN storage and using mixed back-end storage solutions is as easier than ever before because the storage being virtualized.