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Veritas Storage Foundation Eases Pain of Data Migration

Behind the Headlines

  • December 2, 2004
  • By Brian Proffitt

"Vendor X Ports Enterprise Widget App 5.0 to Linux! Nations Rejoice!", the headline might read. Or: "New Linux App To Bring World Peace."

You've read the headlines. We've even written some of them. But in all this glorious talk about applications moving to Linux, what about all that data you have? How does that get over to Linux?

Application migration to Linux is increasing at a fair clip, that much is certain. But the area of data portability is still something that has a daunting presence in any migration plan. One company that's doing something about it is Veritas, with their Storage Foundation product line.

Veritas has embraced Linux fairly strongly in recent years, though their expertise remains solidly in the not-so-flashy arena of data storage, disaster recovery, and high availability data management. While it may not be flashy, it is definitely an area where many customers are turning for solutions to get their data over to other platforms, or accessing their data on expansion Linux servers.

With the launch of Storage Foundation on the Linux operating system last summer, Veritas forged the last link in a chain of data-management apps that would allow customers to easily move their own data from platform to platform (and back again) within minutes.

According to Ranajit Nevatia, Director of Linux Strategy for Veritas, when data has to be migrated, it can often be a huge project, with a lot of dedicated IT resources and multiple stages of implementation. Nevatia, speaking to LinuxPlanet in a recent interview, emphasized that with the Storage Foundation products, the entire migration can be done in two or three steps, and usually by the primary user group of the data.

The usual problem, Nevatia explained, is that after homegrown apps or even vendor-supported applications such as Oracle or SAP are ported to Linux, the data is not typically ported over to the new system. At least, not with more work, either from the in-house staff or the vendor--both options adding up to more time and money. This situation is rather undesireable, especially with the risk of loss.

"Rebuilding applications is easy," Nevatia said. "Rebuilding data can be impossible."

What Storage Foundation does, in simplistic terms, is use a technology called Portable Data Containers (PDC) to convert data for exporting to Linux (or some other target platform), then actually exporting the data from the source platform and importing it onto the target platform. PDC essentially acts as a virtual filesystem that wraps data with meta-information that lets it be accessible from--and on--any supported operating system.

This metadata approach means that size of files is no longer the major factor in data migration. Whether its 10 Mb or 10 Tb, Nevatia explained, a migration will take exactly the same amount of time, since much of the work is manipulating the metadata.

What does become a factor is the number of files. Even that is not terribly problematic, Nevatia said. 100,000 files will take about 5-6 minutes to migrate, he indicated, and 5 million files will take about 60-70 minutes. This speed is letting customers use Storage Foundation in more ways than just one-time migrations.

According to Veritas' customers, the biggest use of this software is with one-time migration, but right behind this is as a backup methodology. Because of the cross-platform capabilities of these products, users can now store data backups on virtually any box in their server room--including older UNIX machines that might otherwise be destined for the scrap yard.

Nevatia said that right now, most of their customers are using this solution to migrate from Solaris to Linux, then some other UNIX to Linux. He emphasized that migrations are not limited to Solaris-to-Linux, it just that's what seems to be the big customer demand.

Veritas is also seeing their product being used to expand from existing servers onto additional servers being added to netowrks for capacity. Again, because of cost savings, these new boxes are often Linux machines.

Right now, Storage Foundation, Storage Foundation Oracle RAC, and Storage Foundation Cluster File System are available for purchase. Storage Foundation software can be purchased starting at US$995, with Storage Foundation Oracle RAC starting at US$6,000 and Storage Foundation Cluster File System starting at US$2,500.

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