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SANsymphony-V 10 is coming soon...

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Scheduled for 30th May 2014, DataCore will release the new version of their storage virtualization product SANsymphony-V. Partners and existing customers are given the first "what's new" webinar last week and so it's worth having a closer look at the new features in v10

  • Improvements in data rebalancing and the AutoTiering (AT) feature. This includes balancing data on a vdisk base over all available disks. This is not really new but the improved mechanism now distributes all data of a vdisk over all available disks in the pool and not only on these disks that have the most free capacity. This should make DataCore act more like other wide striping storage systems and will get all performance from all disks in the pool for each vDisk.
    Additionally, you will now have the ability to „reserve“ space in high tier classes so new data saved to the pool can immediately use top tier storage ressources. I say „reserve“ because it’s not a hard reservation, you could still have too few top tier storage so the „reservation“ can’t be made. But this on the other hand shows you in a simply and easy way that you have to upgrade your tier1 storage.
    Third and last thing to mention is that in the new AT also write I/O can be used to define hot and cold data. With version 9 only reads can make data blocks hot, writes are ignored. This is a per vDisk setting and can be turned on and off as you wish. So this will help improve performance on write-intensive applications where buffering in the DataCore cache isn't enough.
  • Scheduler improvement: currently many-core-systems do not beneift from the available cpu power. The poller engine only scales with the GHz rate, not the number of cores. So if you have more than 4 cores in version 9 these cores are quite idle all the time. The new poller engine now can spawn new poller processes to drill down latency if the first poller task is overloaded. So systems can scale much better with additional CPUs/cores.
  • Rebuild improvements: in my opinion the most important improvement. With version 9 and below if you lose a singel pool disk, the whole pool goes down and you have to rebuild it from scratch. That means you have to make a full recovery for all mirrored data from the partner node. This can take some time especially in high capacity environments. With version 10 you can „purge“ lost physical disks in the pool and SSY-V now knows which blocks have be purged and copied from the mirror node. This will dramatically reduce the amount of time you need to be back in fully mirrored mode. This new feature is also quite helpful if you have PCIe accelerator cards in place. The old way was to build a DataCore software RAID1 over two of these cards within the same server, reducing the availably capacity by half. Now you can risk the loss of one of these accelerator boards as the lost data blocks will be pulled from the other node and live goes on with only minimal impact on redundancy. One thing to mention here is that DataCore sees this feature as the "last line of defense", to be used when no other option remains. One has to see.....
  • Scalability: SSY-V 10 now supports up to 32 nodes in one server group. BUT....n-way mirror is still not supported, only two-node-mirror is. N-way mirror is scheduled for end 2015. This massive raise in the number of nodes is clearly dedicated to the new VSAN license model.
  • GUI improvements: especially the way storage allocation is currently shown is optimized. You will have a much better view on storage allocation and latency/usage per physical disk. This will also improve error handling and diagnostics.
    Additionally the system health view is optimized. You now have a tree like view on all components.
  • Last but not least....Licensing: 

    DataCore adds a new licensing scheme beside the well known vL-licensing. They now have VSAN-licensing (aka HS license model). VSAN is the use of SSY-V within a VM or within the core partition of a Hyper-V server. VSAN has the same feature set of the standard vL-licenses (except fibre channel, and asynchronous replication, these two can be licensed separately) but can only serve storage to the hypervisor system it is running on or any other hypervisor system that has a HS license too. So for each hypervisor you want to present storage to you have to buy a VSAN license. The licensing model is a bit like earlier SANmelody licensing. You can choose between 8/16/64/256 and 1024TB licenses. You have to license the capacity each node manages on each hypervisor system. So for example if you have two hypervisor systems and each is running one instance of VSAN and each VSAN has 16TB of local storage, you have to buy 2x the 16TB license. In this scenario, the two VSAN instances can only serve storage to the two hypervisors they are running on. A third hypervisor in the cluster can’t access the storage as long as there is no VSAN license available for the third host. For the third hypervisor you would have to buy a third license no matter if this VSAN instance has local storage or not.

    By the way, local storage can be everything the VM or the core partition can see, including DAS, iSCSI, FC etc.

    As you only have the 5 license options mentioned above, a VSAN instance with e.g. 24TB of local storage has to be licensed with the 64TB HS license. You can also have different storage capacity in each VSAN instance, so mixing one VSAN with 16TB, one with 24TB and one with 78TB requires you to buy one 16TB, one 64TB and one 256TB HS license. And, as mentioned above, additional hypervisor servers that do not present storage to the VSAN cluster, can consume storage from the first three hosts by buying the smallest license (8TB) for each of them.

VSAN from DataCore is a bit like VSAN from VMware or other VSAs like the StoreVirtual P4000 VSA from HP. It is used to transform local storage in the hypervisor servers to fully redundant SAN storage. Formerly you had to license these VSA like physical DataCore nodes which makes the installation quite expensive. With the new VSAN or HS license the price drops and makes DataCore SSY-V a strong competitor in the VSAN area. I will write an extra article about VSAN in the next few weeks to give more details on this new licensing. But for now the only important thing for you to know is, VSAN from DataCore is NOT a new technology, it’s exactly the same SSY-V software but combined with a new license model.


The bottom line:

SSY-V 10 adds some nice improvements in detail but doesn’t include really big new features. V10 makes the life of an SSY-V admin a bit easier without adding complexity. Top goal of v10 is to improve existing features and raise scalability together with drilling in the market of VSANs with the new license model.

For all who want to upgrade as soon as possible: as know so far v10 will still run on Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 (R2) so existing customers should be able to easily upgrade. For all DCIEs, there will be a „What’s new“ webinar and an upgrade test to be allowed to install or upgrade to v10. By now it is unknown when this test will be available so I wouldn`t expect the first upgrades to v10 before end of June 2014. 

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