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Symantec updates flagship storage, high availability suites

Version 6.0 includes tools for building private cloud systems

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Symantec Corp. this week unveiled version 6.0 of its flagship storage management and high availability suite of products, which include upgrades designed to help users build private-cloud architectures out of existing infrastructures.

The upgraded product suite includes several key products, including Veritas Storage Foundation 6.0, Veritas Cluster Server 6.0, Veritas Operations Manager 4.1 and Symantec ApplicationHA 6.0.

Symantec said the full suite is more tightly integrated to allow business services to be run across multiple virtualisation technologies, operating systems and storage platforms.

Veritas Cluster Server 6.0 and Storage Foundation HA 6.0 have also added a new tool called Virtual Business Service, which manages the availability of business services end-to-end across heterogeneous platforms, according to Don Angspatt a vice president of product management for Symantec.

Start, stop and test with just a click

The system runs on multiple platforms, including AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux, Windows and VMware,

The tool lets administrators orchestrate the start, stop, non-disruptive testing, and failover of multi tier applications with a single click, resulting in resilience and mobility for the business service, Angspatt said.

"We're really trying to address a couple big pain points - business serviceability and something we're calling elastic storage capabilities - related to moving to the cloud," Angspatt said. "One of the things we're delivering is high availability disaster recovery for the entire business service and not just a component of that service."

Storage Foundation 6.0 adds support for file system deduplication and compression, along with reclamation of thin provisioned volumes, meaning it can reclaim any capacity not used by applications, Symantec said.

The upgraded suite also supports storage tiering, or the ability to migrate data across multiple drive types based on use patterns, and now offers dynamic resizing of volumes, meaning it can shrink or expand them based on application requirements without disruption.

Brad Cowles, senior director of IT Platform Services at construction wholesale company HD Supply, said he's been using Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) and Symantec's Veritas NetBackup software in three data centers that support of 10 lines of business and 665 branch locations.

"VCS and the replication part of it has allowed us to accomplish one of our biggest strategic objectives - to get rid of Unix and get onto Linux, even for all our mission critical applications," Cowles said. "We haven't focused a lot on what 6.0 has to offer. We could continue to make incredible gains with the version we're on now for the next 12 months and not run out of things to do."

Using Red Hat and x86 servers

The IT operation at HD Supply, like many companies, has been increasingly focused on server virtualisation. The company has been migrating from AIX- or HP-UX-based servers to commodity x86 hardware running Red Hat Linux, Cowles said.

Because commodity hardware is less fault tolerant than the IBM and Hewlett-packard systems, HD Supply is configuring its x86 servers in a high-availability cluster utilising Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) and Clusterware software for its Oracle database instances. The company also uses standard Red Hat clustering for Linux, he added.

Cowles said the Linux systems are hard to manage with no GUIs, no manual, and no one to call for support.

"[Administrators would] have critical situation when a cluster didn't behave the way it was supposed to when network or storage glitch occurred. No one could troubleshoot except for the person who created the cluster," he said.

As such, the wholesaler had some website outages, including a major one that took down an e-commerce website for hours.

A Unix team leader who had experience with Symantec's VCS suite assured him that the software is rock solid, so the company performed proof of concepts that passed with flying colors.

Cowles also noted that the cost using VCS to cluster Linux systems was reasonable, unlike the "off the charts" cost of clustering Unix systems.

"Now I can democratise the engineering and support of the clusters and have automatic freebies on all the monitoring and control panels, which gave everyone a nice visual of all the performance of these clusters," he said.

In a year, HD Supply has created 10 large Linux clusters with an average of four or five nodes each that run hundreds of databases "That allows us to create a service group more easily. We've been able to crank it out like a cookie cutter," he said.

"I'd say we can deploy probably three times the amount of clustered infrastructure with Veritas with the same head count as with the manual Red Hat Linux method. And, my failures due to clustering in some way, have vanished. For me, this has been a game changer," he added.

Monitoring cluster capabilities

Cowles did note that with 26 storage arrays from HP, Hitachi Data Systems, AMS, Pillar Data Systems and NetApp, he'd like to see more access to monitoring data through Symantec's Veritas Operations Manager tool.

"We want to syndicate with our enterprise dashboard and monitoring system. For example, if I'm running a farm on a cluster, there are certain metrics I want to keep an eye on," he said. "I don't have an easy insight today into what my cluster capacity is, or for that matter, which application or service group is consuming how much of what capacity."

Angspatt suggested that's exactly what Veritas Operations Manager 4.1 now provides - a single management console for multiple physical and virtual servers.

VOM now allows IT organisations to provision storage using policy-based templates and implement chargeback based on real application storage utilisation through Veritas Operations Manager Advanced. The tool allows administrators to take immediate remedial action to optimise and scale storage utilization with Veritas Storage Foundation.

Symantec's updated product suite also includes:

  • Veritas Replicator 6.0;
  • Symantec VirtualStore 6.0;
  • Veritas Storage Foundation for Windows 6.0;
  • Veritas Storage Foundation for Oracle RAC 6.0;
  • and
  • Veritas Storage Foundation for Sybase ACE 6.0.


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