Storage firm gets to the core of automation

New automated product features and a business philosophy that focuses solely on storage efficiency are the key foundations upon which DataCore Software is hoping to beat larger rivals such as IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm released the latest variety of its SANsymphony storage management platform last month. The new version, 5.2, offers network managers a number of functions that help to solve common storage problems automatically.

The product can recognize when certain areas of a storage area network (SAN) are becoming overloaded with info, and then rectify the situation by allocating more space where needed. Virtual volume statistics are gathered in real time in order to keep tabs on such predicaments. Different departments can be allocated their own amount of space on the network, making it easier to achieve effective load balancing, according to DataCore.

SANsymphony 5.2 also offers net managers a live picture of the SAN by keeping track of storage clients and the switches connected to them. These displays, DataCore says, help isolate cabling and other hardware malfunctions that are reported to a centralized alarm console and event manager.

Rod Lucero, chief architect for Canseco Finance in St. Paul, Minn., has used previous versions of SANsymphony and will be upgrading to 5.2. The loan company handles approximately 70 terabytes of information across four data centres, primarily in two major locations in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Tempe, Ariz. One of its storage systems has in excess of 800,000 loans, Lucero said.

Because dealing with that volume of information can be a weighty undertaking, Lucero said he appreciates the product’s ability to perform difficult tasks automatically.

“As [our technicians] start writing data to disk, SANsymphony is automatically provisioning storage in the background with no operator intervention whatsoever,” Lucero said. “[The technicians] get the storage they want, and we also don’t have to deal with them calling us up in the middle of the night saying, ‘We need more storage.'”

Although the storage software market also contains big-name competitors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, DataCore believes it has an edge in that it is selling software and nothing else.

“One of the problems the other suppliers have is that they are generally trying to sell hardware,” said Augie Gonzalez, DataCore’s director of product marketing in Ft. Lauderdale. “They are not necessarily trying to solve the customer’s problems.…Their whole business model is built around moving more storage and servers.”

Gonzalez added that while DataCore is striving to reduce the number of servers on a customer network with its software, such consolidation would not be in synch with its competitors’ overall directions.

“So they are not incented to consolidate. They will speak to that,…but it runs counter to how everybody in their sales organization, their manufacturing facilities, their support and professional services (operate).”

An added bonus to DataCore’s approach, Gonzalez said, is that because its software operates with all brands of storage equipment, customers with mixed environments can use the offerings across multiple vendors’ boxes.

“That gives us a very objective and consultative position with [customers] that they really enjoy. They know we don’t have some hidden agenda to move some big iron in there.”

SANsymphony is available and starts at less than US$20,000 per storage virtualization server. For more details, see