EMC Dawns Invista Network Virtualization Storage Solution

EMC this week launched its network storage virtualization product, Invista. Analysts said the technology validates the concept of intelligent storage area network (SAN) on switch platforms.

Network storage virtualization provides for the creation of “virtual volumes” within the storage network, forming a dynamic environment in which physical storage resources can be moved and changed rapidly and non-disruptively.

“The beauty of EMC Invista is that it gives customers the flexibility to implement storage virtualization as a transparent process that’s additive and complementary to their existing infrastructures, while addressing very specific business needs like non-disruptive operation,” said Mark Lewis, EMC’s executive vice president and chief development officer.

Running SAN on Switch Platforms

Analysts said EMC is the only major vendor to develop a network storage virtualization solution designed to run on SAN switch platforms from the top three switch vendors. Invista takes advantage of specialized processing power resident in intelligent switches to perform core storage virtualization operations.

David Hill, principal of the Mesabi Group, told TechNewsWorld that EMC has validated the long-awaited concept of intelligence in SAN switch platforms. He said the storage network intelligence “sun” is now rising thanks to EMC as the focus of the storage “solar system” turns to the network.

“Talk is cheap and whiskey costs money,” Hill said. “Invista allows customers to protect their existing software assets. That’s critical because customers aren’t about to replace their old systems just to put in a new system.”

Flexible Tool

Unlike IBM, Invista is built with an “out-of-band” architecture, which allows the routing to scale without affecting the data plane. These routing systems can be used on an open operating system that lets provider management systems get information for integration with current operating systems.

With in-band architecture, on the other hand, network managers monitor and administer network elements via the same network that those elements support. If the network is disabled because of an element failure, then analysts said that could cripple network management.

“EMC took the necessary time to develop an architecture that’s completely open and stateless,” Lewis said. “For this reason, EMC Invista eliminates the performance limitations and data integrity issues associated with other storage virtualization methods, and is architected to scale to the most complex and demanding enterprise environments.”

Charles King, Principal Analyst, Pund-IT, said the Invista demonstrates the benefits enterprise customers can enjoy when storage vendors think “out-of-the-band.”

“EMC’s new network-based storage virtualization solution provides a flexible, non-disruptive means for businesses to satisfy their immediate needs and offers the scalability and performance required to secure their investments against future demands,” King said. “Overall, we believe Invista will be regarded as an invaluable tool for enhancing the management and provisioning of heterogeneous storage infrastructures.”

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