Condusiv's Latest Diskeeper Defrags At The Logical, Not Physical, Disk Layer

Condusiv has added a new twist to its Diskeeper line of disk defragmentation software by tackling for the first time the question of how to defragment SAN storage.

While technology for defragmenting individual disk drives has been in use for years, Condusiv is the first to apply the concept to SAN storage with Diskeeper 15 Server, said Brian Morin, senior vice president of global marketing for the Burbank, Calif.-based vendor.

Diskeeper 15 Server was designed to go beyond the technology SAN providers offer to maintain storage performance, Morin told CRN.

[Related: Condusiv Founder Pledges Channel Commitment After CEO Baldwin's Ouster]

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Fragmentation and SAN performance is addressed by the SAN vendors, but only at the physical layer, Morin said.

"But fragmentation of disks at the logical disk layer usually gets missed," he said. "The Windows operating system doesn't see the physical layer of the disk. That's the SAN's job. Windows addresses the disk at the logical layer. But logical disks are fragmented before the SAN can see them. So SAN performance degrades over time."

Even when a SAN does a good job of managing disks at the physical layer, Windows doesn't see data as a single file, but instead sees multiple logical reference points within a file, each with its own I/O characteristics, Morin said.

"If you defrag at the logical layer, performance increases," Morin said. "If Windows sees a contiguous file, it just needs a single I/O to manage it."

Diskeeper 15 Server defragments files at the logical layer, but doesn't touch data at the physical layer, Morin said. "It doesn't change the blocks on the storage device," he said. Fragmentation is a problem with SAN storage. It's just not what you think it is."

Plan B Technologies, which installs a copy of Diskeeper on every server that is not connected to a SAN to keep the disks defragged, plans to bring Diskeeper 15 Server to its SAN customers, said Steve Taylor, chief technology officer of the Bowie, Md.-based solution provider.

"In SAN and virtualized environments, there's no benefit to use Diskeeper," Taylor told CRN. "It may actually be a detriment. So a couple years ago, we moved customers to Condusiv's V-locity product line, but it's seven times as expensive as Diskeeper."

For some environments, Diskeeper 15 Server provides the benefits of V-locity, Taylor said.

"In logical volumes, there is some benefit to laying down the tracks in a more logical fashion," he said. "We've seen the benefits of having data writes laid down in a defragged manner. When the data is retrieved, instead of using how the data is laid out by the array, customers get improved performance from a more logical layout."

Diskeeper 15 Server is available, and lists for about $400 per physical server, Morin said.

"No channel partner should sell a server without this," he said. "If you are going to spend thousands of dollars on server hardware, why not spend a bit more to increase performance another 25 percent?"