The Virtualization Room

Aug 8 2007   3:30PM GMT

XenSource’s Bold Storage Play

cwolf Profile: cwolf

XenSource recently announced a partnership with Symantec that paves the way for Veritas Storage Foundation to be embedded in XenEnterprise 4.0, expected to ship Q307. Note that the OEM includes a fully licensed, unrestricted version of Storage Foundation. The majority of enterprises today rely on Veritas backup and storage management tools, so it makes perfect sense that XenSource would partner with Symantec to build out a more robust storage architecture for XenEnterprise virtualization platforms. By embedding Storage Foundation in XenEnterprise, storage resources will be able to be managed transparent to their dependent VMs. So XenEnterprise will support connecting VMs to disparate storage targets (FC, iSCSI, NAS, etc.), multipath, and relocation to storage resources as needed, without impacting VM availability.

If you’re already a Veritas shop, this announcement should come as significant news. As a result of the XenSource – Symantec partnership, organizations using Veritas Storage Foundation will be able to manage XenEnterprise storage resources using their existing management toolsets. Furthermore, the partnership is also going to result in certified NetBackup solutions for XenSource platforms. Many backup vendors are still sorting out their VMware backup solution set, while Symantec is steaming ahead by adding XenSource to its already supported VMware and Microsoft virtualization backup solutions. There’s a big difference between a “we support VMware and Xen backup” marketing check box, and a robust and well documented solution set for virtual machine data protection and recovery. Symantec clearly gets it. For example, NetBackup 6.5 is the first backup platform to support recovering VM images or individual files from a single VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) job.

The OEM agreement may also impact organizations that are required to certify their storage management solutions with every new version release. By using a single storage management infrastructure for both server and virtualization platforms, re-certification of storage management following virtualization platform updates will be easier than on virtualization platforms using a proprietary storage management architecture.

Storage management, high availability, and backup support have been three key issues that have stalled XenSource’s assault on the enterprise. All three of these issues will be solved in XenEnterprise 4.0 as a result of the XenSource – Symantec partnership. With Storage Foundation embedded in XenEnterprise, organizations that do not run Symantec (Veritas) software will still be able to take advantage of the new storage features and manage them using their XenEnterprise management tools. High availability and dynamic VM failover will be included as well. Inclusion of high availability into their virtualization architecture will place XenSource in the high availability virtualization club that now includes VMware, Microsoft, Virtual Iron, Novell, and Red Hat.

When virtualizing mission critical systems, I have long viewed high availability and certified backup support as requirements, and have recommended that virtualization platforms devoid of these features remain relegated to training, test, and development environments. With the upcoming release of XenEnterprise 4.0, XenSource appears to be on the verge of crossing the chasm to join the enterprise virtualization elites such as VMware.

Chris Wolf
Senior Analyst, Burton Group
Note: This post also appears on the Burton Group Data Center Strategies blog.

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