Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where Virtualization and the SMB Meet

Last week DataCore Software Corporation announced the release of several new products offerings targeted at the SMB market.  First let's talk about what's not new, they've kept all the features DataCore's customers love (Caching, HA, Thin-Provisioning, iSCSI, FC, Snapshot, VSS Integration, Remote Replication), second what is really new...the size or "Managed Capacity."  The real net-new here is the ability to get their award winning products in capacities starting at 500 GB.  So net-net, all the storage virtualization goodness in smaller chunks!  One of my favorite things here is their "Carry Forward Value Protection Plan," I start with what I need now and pay to upgrade as I go, no more throwaway systems or data migration projects. 

From my perspective, the biggest news here is that all the people I told that virtualization was out of reach I can go back to and say I was wrong and here is the solution to the problem.  I think I'm similar to most engineers in that I don't stray too far from previous designs that have worked well in the past.  However a 500 GB, HA SAN changes the way I think about things.  It's probably appropriate for me to admit a prejudice here, up to this point I have to say I wouldn't have considered the possibility or need for a SAN that wasn't measured in TB. 

I was having a design session with a colleague of mine (happy-hour at the pub with napkins and a marker) and the topic of virtualization in the SMB came up.  I was quick to lament my frustrations in designing Enterprise class systems scaled down for the SMB market.  The problem isn't designing or implementing them, it's getting them to be in the acceptable price range of SMB customers.  I have been a virtualization aficionado from the earliest days but was spoiled by having worked in the Enterprise market for many years.  There are an abundance of  cool solutions for the enterprise crowd and conversely a dearth of  SMB scaled solutions with Enterprise class architecture.

Much to the credit of the team at DataCore, they really changed my thinking in how to architect these solutions and keep them in the realm of price reality.

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