Array-based replication does have drawbacks; all externalised storage becomes dependent on the virtualising array. This makes replacement potentially complex. To date, HDS have not provided tools to seamlessly migrate away from one USP to another (as far as I am aware). In addition, there's the problem of "all your eggs in one basket"; any issue with the array (e.g. physical intervention like fire, loss of power, microcode bug etc) could result in loss of access to all of your data. Consider the upgrade scenario of moving to a higher level of code; if all data was virtualised through one array, you would want to be darn sure that both the upgrade process and the new code are going to work seamlessly...
The final option is to use fabric-based virtualisation and at the moment this means Invista and SVC. SVC is an interesting one as it isn't an array and it isn't a fabric switch, but it does effectively provide switching capabilities. Although I think SVC is a good product, there are inevitably going to be some drawbacks, most notably those similar issues to array-based virtualisation (Barry/Tony, feel free to correct me if SVC has a non-disruptive replacement path).
I would argue that the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) is more like the HDS USP, and less like the Invista. Both SVC and USP provide a common look and feel to the application server, both provide additional cache to external disk, both are able to provide a consistent set of copy services.
IBM designed the SVC so that upgrades can occur non-disruptively. You can replace the hardware nodes, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the software, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the firmware on the managed disk arrays behind the SVC, again, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk.
More importantly, SVC has the ultimate "un-do" feature. It is called "image mode". If for any reason you want to take a virtual disk out of SVC management, you migrate over to an "image mode" LUN, and then disconnect it from SVC. The "image mode" LUN can then be used directly, with all the file system data in tact.
I define "virtualization" as technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different set of resources with more desirable characteristics. For SVC, the more desirable characteristics include choice of multi-pathing driver, consistent copy services, improved performance, etc. For EMC Invista, the question is "more desirable for whom?" EMC Invista seems more designed to meet EMC's needs, not its customers. EMC profits greatly from its EMC PowerPath multi-pathing driver, and from its SRDF copy services, so it appears to have designed a virtualization offering that:
- Continuesthe use of EMC Powerpath as a multi-pathing driver. SVC supports driversthat are provided at no charge to the customer, as well as those built-in to each operating system like MPIO.
- and, continuesthe use of Array-based copy services like SRDF of the underlying disk. SVC providesconsistent copy services regardless of storage vendor being managed.
A post from Dan over at Architectures of Control explains the anti-social nature of public benches. City planners, in an effort to discourage homeless people from sleeping on benches in parks or sidewalks, design benches that are so uncomfortableto use, that nobody uses them. These included benches made of metal that are too hot or too cold during certainmonths, benches slanted at an angle that dump you on the ground if you lay down, or benches that have dividers sothat you must be in an upright seated position to use.
This is not a disparagement of split-path switch-based designs. Rather, EMC's specific implementation appears to be designed for it to continuevendor lock-in for its multi-pathing driver, continuevendor lock-in for its copy services when used with EMC disk, and only provide slightly improved data migration capability for heterogeneous storage environments. Other switch-based solutions, such as those from Incipient or StoreAge, had different goals in mind.
Sadly, my IBM colleague BarryW and I have probably spent more words discussing Invista than all eleven EMC bloggers combined this year. While everyone in the industry is impressed how often EMC can sell "me, too" products with an incredibly large marketing budget, EMC appears not to have set aside funds for the Invista.
If a customer could design the ideal "storage virtualization" solution that would provide them the characteristics they desire the most from storage resources, it would not be anything like an Invista. While there are pros and cons between IBM's SVC and HDS's TagmaStore offerings, the reason both IBM and HDS are the market leaders in storage virtualization is because both companies are trying to provide value to the customer, just in different ways, and with different implementations.