CA Plows Ahead With Storage Virtualization Despite Certification Snag

The deal licenses CA to resell StoreAge Virtualization Manager (SVM), an appliance that can represent and manage mixed-vendor SAN arrays as one volume of data, said Eric Pitcher, vice president of product management for BrightStor products at CA.

SVM gives CA block data virtualization tools that it didn't have before, Pitcher said. Coupled with BrightStor ARCserve Backup product, SVM can reduce the time it takes to perform a backup. And when used with BrightStor Storage Resource Manager, SVM can make tiered storage management--the act of moving lesser-used data to less-expensive storage devices--more efficient, he said.

"With StoreAge, we are able to provide the next level of SAN integration. We're able to do dynamic capacity allocation, replication and snap-shotting," Pitcher said.

CA wants to get SVM in the hands of its sales force fast, which is why CA chose not to attempt to acquire Irvine, Calif.-based StoreAge, said Mark Newberry, vice president of product marketing for BrightStor. SVM and CA products are already integrated, he said.

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Plans call for CA to sell SVM through its direct-sales force, which is incented to enlist CA's top-tier Enterprise Solution Provider (ESP) partners for product fulfillment, Pitcher said. CA didn&'t give ESP partners advance notice that it would begin reselling SVM.

ESP partners that don&'t sell SVM will have to wait for CA to create and deliver an SVM certification and then have to get certified before they can sell the product, and that process could take many months, according to Newberry. In the interim, when CA's direct-sales force closes SVM sales that require VAR participation, those solution providers will be current StoreAge partners, he said. Some of CA's ESP partners are already StoreAge-certified, but not the majority, he added.

As a result, CA's direct-sales force must be diplomatic in avoiding any conflict between an ESP's customer and a visiting StoreAge VAR, Newberry said, noting that the trusted relationships between ESP partners and their customers will be respected if a StoreAge VAR is called in. "We will make it happen between CA and the partners," he said.

Rob Piwowarczyk, president of Enterprise Systems, a solution provider in Golden, Colo., that already sells CA products and SVM, applauded the deal. "This is a win-win for both CA and StoreAge," he said.

But ESP partners not already certified to sell SVM were more critical of the need for storage virtualization.

"When a customer asks me about virtualization, I ask them for their definition of it, because there are like 35 definitions, and everyone has their own twist," said Dan Borland, a storage solution architect at Core BTS (Business Technology Solution), a CA ESP partner in Indianapolis, that&'s not certified to sell SVM. Borland said he rather would have seen a storage hardware vendor such as Hewlett-Packard deliver something like SVM because of interoperability issues between software and hardware in a virtualized environment.

A Northeastern ESP partner, who requested anonymity, agreed that a big problem with storage virtualization is interoperability between the virtualization software and the hardware arrays. If an array isn&'t certified to run with SVM, the combination could affect hardware warranties, the partner said. "You are trumping any file format [with virtualization]. And you could be in a support world of hurt," the partner said.

Using an appliance to keep virtualization at the fabric layer and off the application level avoids interoperability problems, Enterprise Systems' Piwowarczyk said.

Patrick Cronin, principal at Kovarus, an ESP partner in Emeryville, Calif., said virtualization may have lost some of its appeal now that Fibre Channel SANs have become less expensive. With lower prices for Fibre Channel SANs, adding new, separately managed storage arrays makes more sense than having to deal with the complexity of pooling terabytes of storage into a less secure, virtual cloud, he said.

CA plans to sell StoreAge solutions as stand-alone products and in managed capacity pricing SKUs. A typical StoreAge deployment across 5 Tbytes of storage would cost about $60,000, Pitcher said.