Symantec To Combine, Integrate XenServer And Storage


Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif., used its Symantec Vision conference, held this week in Las Vegas, to unveil Veritas Virtual Infrastructure, or VxVI, which combines the company's Veritas Storage Foundation software and the full version of Citrix XenServer from Citrix Systems, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

VxVI is a completely new product that targets the top customer challenge of how to handle storage management in a virtualized server environment, said Aaron Aubrecht, senior director of product management and engineering for Symantec's Veritas Storage Foundation.

Customers like server virtualization, but it can complicate their infrastructures, Aubrecht said.

"We offer an integrated management console," he said. "Users can create, start, stop, or destroy any virtual machine, as well as create storage, lay out paths, migrate storage, and more."

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By integrating storage management and server virtualization into a single package, the result is a more simple way to work with the two important technologies, Aubrecht said.

For instance, server virtualization technology from market leader VMware, Palo Alto, Calif., has its own file system which loses the direct connection between block-level storage and a virtual machine, leaving the virtual machine unable to know where data blocks are stored and requiring separate storage pools to provide data to multiple virtual servers, Aubrecht said.

"We allow the ability to take blocks from heterogeneous servers, lay them out as needed, and present the data to multiple virtual machines," he said. "So instead of a homogeneous volume of storage, we allow virtual machines to work directly with data at the block level without an intermediate file system. This allows users to use all key capabilities of Veritas Storage Foundation, such as replication, multi-pathing, load balancing, mirroring, and so on."

It seems to do a lot of things one can't do with VMware, said Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider.

"With XenServer, you can use any storage technology supported on the hardware platform," Teter said.

Server virtualization has transferred a lot of the storage functions to customers' system administrators, Teter said. "The storage administrator might say, here's a bunch of LUNs, and the server guy uses them. But in virtual environments, a lot of storage controls are bypassed. But combine server virtualization and storage, and you give server administrators better control."

Teter said that Veritas Storage Foundation is not necessarily a popular application for x86 systems, but it is a very powerful application regardless of the environment.

"By bundling it with XenServer, it gives server administrators very powerful tools," he said. "I'm encouraged. We love Veritas Storage Foundation. For Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and Windows environments, it's a great way to provision storage. But VMware can't use Storage Foundation."

VxVI looks "cool" because it gives customers a tool for centrally handling the deployment and management of virtual servers while leveraging the underlying technology of Veritas Storage Foundation, said Zeki Yasar, CTO of Intellistore, a Mountain View, Calif.-based solution provider.

"It brings high-end features like replication and backup to server virtualization," Yasar said. "It makes sense to bring together two products that work well with each other but play two different roles, but which are as important as the other."

VxVI is a good move for Symantec as customer environments become more and more virtualized, said Don James, CEO of Bear Data Systems, a Belmont, Calif.-based solution provider.

It is also a good move for Citrix in its quest to be a major server virtualization market player, said James, whose company works closely with both Citrix and VMware.

"Citrix is doing well with Xen," he said. "But in the market, it's not at the level of VMware. By working with Symantec, it will help establish Citrix. VMware is all over the market. But there are a lot of Citrix AppServer shops, especially in the midmarket. By aligning with Citrix, it gets them in a lot more environments that previously."

Symantec is a good partner of VMware, and supports VMware with data protection and data availability solutions, Aubrecht said.

"But as we look at virtual environments, there are various ways to solve customer issues," he said. "You can run as a guest in a virtual machine, but management handles all the issues. By integrating XenServer into the solution, we create new opportunities."