This week at VMworld FalconStor announced a very unique product targetted at around VMware Disaster Recovery: the Network Storage Server (NSS) Virtual Appliance. Jerome and I had a long conversation with FalconStor and I can tell you these are game changing technologies from FalconStor.
First, a bit of background: back in May VMware introduced a product called Site Recovery Manager (SRM). There have been many opinions called out on this product from “Finally we have something to perform a real DR with on VMware”, to “It’s extremely difficult to deploy and manage”. However, VMware did something very intelligent in its inception of SRM, knowing that they can’t be all things to all people. The replication portion of SRM is relying on the back-end storage devices already in use to perform those functions with a set of API tools called a Storage Replication Adapter, or SRA, to integrate directly into VMware’s SRM functionality.
There are a few things to keep in mind with this scenario. In the traditional storage-iron replication process, you typically need to have similar or identical storage systems on both-ends of the pipe that drive up cost with under-utilized storage at the remote location; difficult FCIP Gateways to manage; no real bandwidth shaping or optimization; and, the need to replicate a block for block copy versus replicating only the actual data. These factors will keep SRM out of the hands of the SMB and some mid-market customers just due to the overall cost and complexity of the solution.
Enter FalconStor with its NSS Virtual Appliance, which is the first software vendor to receive this ratification from VMware in the SRM landscape. FalconStor brings a very open approach to this solution. By placing a FalconStor NSS appliance in between the ESX Server’s and the storage farm the solution can now become truly hardware independent as the FalconStor appliance can virtualize some or all of the storage on the back-end.
Placing the FalconStor appliance into the virtual layer between the ESX Servers and the Storage Farm(s), allows a customer to realize the following benefits:
- Seamless integration with Site Recover Manager
- Take snapshots down to the application and file system level on the VM guest
- Support for all major applications
- Simple and straight-forward to deploy and manage via a central management console that controls all aspect
- Usage of FalconStor robust replication technology
- Offering bandwidth shaping
- Deployment of micro-scan to only replicate the data that has changed, as well as compressing that data before it leaves the source location
These benefits can allow a customer regardless of size to replicate data from Tier-1 Fibre Channel storage system to a low-cost iSCSI storage array (or any storage array in between) without missing a beat since the entire storage landscape has been virtualized to the FalconStor appliances. This ensures the company can keep their cost low by deploying a recovery solution at the remote location running at a diminished capacity versus having to deploy similar or identical storage hardware and complex transport mechanisms.
The integration of FalconStor with VMware is pushing up the bar into the Virtualization utopia that has been promised by many vendors but has yet to be delivered upon. While FalconStor still needs to deal with the stigma that remains with virtualizing enterprise storage systems, this announcement reflects a giant step in the right direction for the industry and, more importantly, the end-user community as a whole.