Symantec: Thin Provisioning Is 'Chunky' No More


Even more important, the new Thin Reclamation API allows those arrays to automatically reclaim storage capacity that has been allocated for specific applications, said Thomas Cornely, director of storage management in Symantec's High Availability group.

The new technology was shown at the annual Symantec Vision conference, held this week in Las Vegas.

Thin provisioning allows a storage administrator to allocate more capacity to specific applications or users than is physically available under the assumption that not all those applications and users will need the entire allocated space simultaneously. This allows extra physical capacity to be installed at a later date as the total amount of space actually used approaches the current installed capacity.

While most storage array vendors already include thin provisioning as a feature of their arrays, they can only automatically allocate additional storage, Cornely said.

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"What was missing is the ability to reclaim that storage," he said. "Once that storage is no longer needed, the question was how to return it to the storage pool for other applications to use. If capacity is not needed anymore, or if it is misallocated, that storage capacity gets unusable. Thin provisioning starts to get chunky."

Storage vendors including Compellent, EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, 3PAR, Hitachi Data Systems and IBM have added code to their arrays that work with Symantec's Thin Reclamation API to automatically thin-provision new capacity and reclaim unused capacity, Cornely said.

"There is close participation between Symantec and the storage vendors," he said. "This lets those vendors and Symantec go to the market with an integrated solution."

The ability to automatically provision and reclaim storage is a huge benefit, especially with database applications that like to create large tables, said Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and Symantec Vision attendee.

"Thin provisioning at the array level doesn't have the efficiency of Veritas Storage Foundation," Teter said. "Using Veritas Storage Foundation, you get a high level of storage efficiency with the storage hardware of your choice. And you get more efficiency for apps that aren't thin-provisioning-friendly."

Veritas Storage Foundation is a file system and storage management solution, and the new Thin Reclamation API can be downloaded free-of-charge by customers with up-to-date maintenance contracts.

Cornely said that Veritas Storage Foundation historically has been primarily a direct-sales product to large enterprise customers but that a large part of sales into Windows and Linux environments goes through channel partners.