Cloverleaf Virtualizes Enterprise Data Environment For Services Oriented Solution Providers

Officials of the Southborough, Mass.-based software developer also said Tuesday the company closed its Series C round of venture financing with an infusion of $11 million, most of which is expected to be used to develop its sales, marketing and business development programs.

Cloverleaf's iSN is an appliance consisting mainly of industry-standard components, including two or more of Sun SPARC 240 servers running Solaris 10 that serve as the iSN controllers, along with redundant standard Fibre Channel and Gbit Ethernet switches, power supplies and fans, said Bob Wilson, vice president of sales for the Americas.

Dave Klauser, CEO of Prism Technologies, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based solution provider, said Cloverleaf's iSN is a compelling solution for enterprises that use a variety of storage protocols with devices connected to several hundred servers.

With iSN, customers should be able to load-balance their Gbit Ethernet or Fibre Channel bandwidth, and eventually their iSCSI bandwidth, in order eliminate any bottlenecks in the data path, Klauser said. iSN also allows balancing of customers' storage capacity across multiple vendors' products, he said.

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For example, one could have an EMC SAN and a Hitachi SAN and present them as a single volume to Oracle, Klauser said. "I'm not saying you would do that," he said. "But it's a dramatic example of what you can do. You can maximize the utilization of storage to the application. It's a powerful solution."

The company's software runs on the controllers to give enterprise customers five basic data services regardless of which storage platforms they use or whether they run a SAN, NAS, or any combination, Wilson said.

The first service is data migration, which allows data to be moved non-disruptively from one storage volume to another storage volume behind the iSN appliance, Wilson said. This is useful for moving data from storage devices that are coming off lease without disrupting the customer's application, he said.

The second service, consolidation and provisioning, allows pools of storage and storage tiers to be created as needed. Data is striped across the various arrays all at the full speed of the arrays as opposed to traditional striping, where the data typically moves at the speed of the slowest array in the data set, Wilson said. iSN can also trick a host into thinking its has more capacity than is actually provisioned in order to allow data to grow in the future without requiring excess capacity, he said.

The third service, business continuance, offers a number of tools to protect customers' data. For instance, iSN allows up to 16,000 data snapshots to be taken per controller, with customers able to set their own policies for taking and deleting snapshots. It also allows synchronous mirroring and periodic replication over dark fibre to storage devices up to 80 kilometers away.

iSN also simplifies the management of heterogeneous environments by giving data center managers visibility into all their storage network assets, utilization, and processes, Wilson said.

Finally, iSN eases storage scaling by allowing new products and technologies to be added to an existing storage network in a non-disruptive manner, he said.

The iSN is currently available with a starting list price of about $220,000, including dual Sun SPARC-based controllers and all redundant equipment. The company is currently developing a version based on Sun Opteron-based servers running Solaris 10, Wilson said.

Cloverleaf is currently looking for solution providers with professionals services capabilities that can offer storage service level agreements (SLAs), Wilson added.