FAQs about DataCore SANsymphony-V

What is a SAN / Storage Area Network?

For an introduction to SANs please have a look at our Guide to Storage Area Networks which can be found here.

What is SANsymphony-V?

SANsymphony-V (often called just SANsymphony these days) is software that makes a normal PC or server capable of being a high-performance, feature rich Storage Area Network (SAN). More recently the industry has started using the term "Software Defined Storage" instead of a "Software SAN".

SANsymphony-V is particularly good are utilising low cost, commodity PC hardware to deliver outstanding performance and enterprise class functionality and availability. Real-time mirroring, snapshots, continous data protection, auto-tiering are just a few of things SANsymphony-V is capable of.

What is Thin Provisioning?

Thin Provisioning lets you create a disk of up to 1 PB (1024 TB) that doesn’t actually consume any physical space i.e. it’s a virtual disk. It only starts to consume space when data is copied to it. Thin Provisioning keeps your costs down as it allows you to add storage to your SAN as it’s required and removes the need to move data between servers, repartition, etc.

What's the Largest Disk Size SANsymphony-V Supports?

1 PB (1,024 TB).

Is SANsymphony-V Reliable?

Yes. We wouldn’t recommend or use it if they weren’t. We have DataCore powered SAN systems in use that have been running non-stop for over 2 years without any interruption or reboot.

Does SANsymphony-V offer True High Availability?

Yes. Better than "true". A DataCore SANsymphony-V SAN will usually (it's up to you) consist of two or more completely independent servers / storage. Often they are in different physical locations. This is far more reliable and available than compared with a single physical SAN / unit even if it has multiple ports or "controllers".

SANsymphony-V can create “multi-pathed” (MPIO) volumes and your servers can use either SAN node to read and write data. As data is written to the SAN it’s held in 2 places simultaneously to ensure that even if one of the SAN units is lost unexpectedly (or deliberately as part of maintenance, upgrades, etc.) no data is lost and there is no interruption and your servers can continue to operate as normal. This is called “fail-over”. When the missing SAN unit is restarted the mirrored data will be resynchronised and your servers can “fail-back” automatically i.e. read and write from their preferred node. The ability to fail-back to a preferred path is especially useful when your SAN units are in different buildings or sites and you want to control how much traffic is passed along inter-site links.

Do I need identical hardware for High Availability?

No. The CPUs, amount of RAM, network cards and fibre channel HBAs do not need to match.

SANsymphony-V "virtualises" your physical storage and present virtual storage to your servers in much the same way as ESX or Hyper-V presents hardware to a virtual machine.

So you can have expensive SAS disks attached to one DataCore server that are mirroring to low-cost SATA disks in another DataCore server - often with no performance loss. You ought to your DataCore reseller before deploying this type of set-up in a production environment.

Can I use SANsymphony-V with an existing SAN?

Yes. SANsymphony-V is often deployed in "front" of an existing SAN to boost its performance and add new features such as a High Availability, Continous Data Protection, Remote Replication, etc.

Multiple existing SANs can be brought under DataCore's control to give you a unified, single point of storage management.

The existing SAN equipment can be attached to the DataCore server using iSCSI or Fibre Channel.

What Virtualisation platforms can I use SANsymphony-V with?

SANsymphony-V is certified for use with:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • VMware
  • Citrix XenServer

Does SANsymphony-V support iSCSI, Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet?

Yes. You can use any combination of iSCSI, Fibre Channel (FC) or Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE). If you want to use FC you may need to be licensed for it. Check with your DataCore partner.

What is a Snapshot?

Snapshots are an instant, "point-in-time" copy of a disk. They are normally used as a staging area for backups or as roll-back points. If you wish you can take multiple snapshots of the same disk.

A snapshot consists of a source disk and a destination disk. When you’ve taken a snapshot, the destination disk can be allocated to a backup server. This is very useful if you’re running out of time when backing up to tape overnight. The snapshot can "exist" as long as you need it to and it doesn’t interfere with the normal operation of your servers so your backup can run for as long as it needs to.

What is a VSS Snapshot?

A VSS Snapshot uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy to synchronise data and trigger a snapshot at exactly the right moment. Using VSS, SANsymphony-V can quiesce applications on your server (Exchange Server, SQL Server, Active Directory e.g. anything that is VSS / Shadow Copy aware) and its data and then take a snapshot. This means that the data, transaction logs, etc. on your snapshot destination disk is ready for backup and restore. A quiesced or "quietened" snapshot is also known as a "crash consistent" snapshot / backup i.e. it's ready to be used as part of a "full" restore.

Can a Snapshot really be taken in an Instant?

Yes. It doesn’t matter whether there is only a few GB of data or TB the snapshot will be taken instantly. Snapshots that are VSS synchronised will need a few seconds for your server to synchronise its’ databases and transaction logs.

What is a Complete Image Snapshot?

A Complete Image snapshot creates an identical copy of the source disk on the destination disk. This has performance benefits but the destination disk will consume as much disk space as the source disk.

In SANsymphony-V "Complete Image" is now called "Full".

What does a Snapshot Source Update do?

Source Update makes the source disk look like the destination i.e. it rolls back all the changes that have happened since the snapshot was taken.

This is really useful when you’re making changes or upgrading software. Creating and taking a snapshot only takes a few seconds but it could save you hours.

In SANsymphony-V a "Source Update" is now called a "Revert to Snapshot".

What kind of Storage can I use with SANsymphony-V?

What have you got?! :) You can use just about any kind of storage that you can attach or present to the PC; SATA, SAS, SSD or storage provided by iSCSI and fibre channel. This is one of the things that makes SANsymphony-V so much more flexible and powerful that a traditional hardware based or proprietary SAN.

What are the hardware requirements for SANsymphony-V?

SANsymphony-V requires Windows 2008 R2 as its base operating system so you'll need to make sure you have x64 drivers for all the hardware. Secondly you'll need the following minimum specification:

  • 2 CPUs (either 2 single core CPUs, or a single dual core CPU) or more
  • 4 GB RAM - the more the merrier as it gets used as high performance cache.
  • 20 GB disk space
  • 1024 x 768 display
Just to be sure we recommend you check here.

What kind of Support will I get from DataCore?

Your first point of contact should be your DataCore partner. They’ll know your system and your requirements and can probably solve any problems you have immediately. Obviously we can't speak for other DataCore partners but...all of our customers talk to us first. :)

DataCore provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and operate several technical support centres around the world that "follow the sun". Support is provided by e-mail, web site and phone and most countries have a free phone DataCore technical support number.

More information is available here and free-phone / toll-free numbers are (DataCore support login required) here.

I Don't Have a DataCore Reseller! Who Should I Contact?

You can contact us! We're always looking for new customers.

We're one of the top DataCore partners in world (honestly!) and support a wide range of different DataCore users including banks, charities, schools, colleges, utilities, SMEs and enterprises (again...honestly!).

If you don't think we're the right fit for you please visit the DataCore Partners page.

What SANsymphony-V Cost?

It depends as it varies according to your requirements. SANsymphony-V is initially licensed by the type of "set-up" you have then by the features you want and the amount of storage you want to manage.

DataCore has two licensing models. Both have different limits, included features and capacities. The "VL" model is designed for a limited number of SAN nodes but lots of storage consumers or initiators. The Hyper-Converged model (DataCore currently calls it "Virtual SAN") is designed for organisations that physically combined the SAN with the Hypervisor.

Whichever license model is right for you all DataCore licences include "Carry Forward" Value Protection. When you need to licence more storage or add new features you only pay the difference between the licence you bought originally and the one you’re moving to. You don’t get penalised for starting small. This also applies when changing between the "VL": and "Virtual SAN" licensing models.

If you'd like a quote please contact us and tell us how much space you want, the kinds of things you’ll be using a SAN for and we’ll create a tailored quote for you.

Want to Know More?
  • Read more about SANs
  • Visit the DataCore website
  • DataCore SANsymphony-V Datasheet (PDF)
  • Try SANsymphony-V Before You Buy - Free 30 Day Evaluation
What Does it Cost?
Only Pay for What You Need!

SANsymphony-V is licensed by the size of storage you want to use and the features you actually need.

Fair and Cost Effective Upgrade Pricing

Additional capacity can be licensed by the TeraByte. Features such as Continuous Data Protection or Auto-tiering can be added at any point.

More Importantly!
If you need to go "go up" a license level you only pay the difference between the license you have now and the license you need!

30% Discount for Education

If your organisation delivers nationally recognised qualifications you can purchase SANsymphony-V licenses with a 30% discount.

15% Discount for National & Local Government

Government organisations, local councils, the public sector, etc. benefit from a 15% discount on the cost of licenses.

A Hyper-Converged SANsymphony-V license for up to 4TB with 12 months of 24/7/365 support and maintenance before any qualifying discount is less than £2,300 + VAT! Correct November 2016