We’ve recently wrote about Datacore but I had the opportunity to meet them again here in Frankfurt during the SNW Europe. At the conference I had a brief with Christian Marczinke (Datacore’s Director Systems Engineers EMEA).
Our last post was on the product but this time I would like to write more about their company’s philosophy and strategy.

The storage hypervisor

Datacore has been on the market for 14 years now and they are very proud of their SANSynphony-V and the fact that they are proposing it as software and not as an appliance (hardware and software bundled together). They are the last vendor to work this way, also Falconstor (who has a conceptually similar virtualization solution) started to sell appliances a while ago.
When I asked why, they candidly answered: “We are a storage hypervisor: what Vmware is for server, we are for storage!”
I insisted on the risks of this approach (different hardwares to deal with, non compliance with best practices, etc.) they were very clear that they have more than 20.000 installation around the globe and more than 6.000 satisfied and loyal customers. 

Tiering to the cloud

Recently, Datacore released a new sub-LUN automated tiering feature. They showed me some interesting slides on the implementation and algorithms they are using in their product but the most interesting part of the picture was the last tier: the cloud.
Infact, Datacore has a cloud connector (an OEM version of TwinStrata Virtual appliance) capable of moving data in-between various public cloud providers (i.e.: Amazon S3) via standard protocols (so you can also use a virtual cloud implemented via HTTP REST APIs).
This is a very good idea but I need to admit that the implementation has some risks: you can move either all the LUN on the cloud or just a part of it. However it was not very clear how a splitted LUN is managed in case of a broken internet connection!
In practice the only secure way to use the cloud connector is to use it without tiering at all (alone), or use the local storage as a big disk cache to the cloud backend to cut down the latencies.

A new solution

During SNW Europe Datacore will announce the availability of a new solutions for SME: STAR.
STAR has the ability to virtualize windows 2008 server local storage and mirror it on a bigger central server. It provides the advantages of shared storage without having it. 
It could be a cheap way to implement an HA storage in small environments. All the data is moved via iSCSI and the central appliance has many interesting features (including a replica option for DR purposes).
The bad thing is that this solution works only for Winodws 2008 and Hyper-V.

Last but not least VDI

I’m not sure if VDI will become mainstream, not anymore, but I think Datacore is!
They are developing different solutions for VDI and they have interesting white papers on their website. The numbers they displayed are really impressive and they are sure they can cut down storage costs while maintaing astonishing performance.
I admit that I need to investigate on this topic more but they have tickled my curiosity.

Bottom line

Datacore is very committed in presenting itself as “the storage hypervisors company” and their solutions for SMB are very interesting. On the other hand I find that their enthusiastic and “radical/liberal” approach could be seen as a threat to many enterprises accustomed to dealing with traditional storage vendors.