StoreAge Ltd.s updated Storage Virtualization Manager appliance delivers virtualization, snapshot capabilities and new remote mirroring. In eWEEK Labs tests, we liked the simplicity and functionality of the StoreAge SVM 4.3. Unlike comparable storage virtualization solutions, the StoreAge SVM provides out-of-band virtualization, and it can manage storage access and traffic without being in the data path.The product began shipping in October and has a base configuration price (for 2TB of managed capacity) of $62,760. Although the base price is relatively high for managing just 2TB, the volume discount is substantial: Managing 10TB, for example, costs $127,808.A driver must be installed on each of the managed servers, and the StoreAge SVM controls what storage units each server can see and use. StoreAge has worked with switch vendors to port virtualization and replication software to their platforms. When run from an intelligent switch (as opposed to the appliance), agents need not be installed on the managed servers. One of the primary benefits of using an out-of-band device is that a SAN (storage area network) can continue to function even if the StoreAge SVM appliance goes down. Furthermore, because the appliance is out of the data path, IT managers neednt worry about it being a performance bottleneck on SANs. A potential drawback of being outside the data path is that a rogue serveradded to a SAN without the drivercould accidentally corrupt data. IT managers can avoid this problem by using rudimentary zoning and LUN (logical unit number) masking. Virtualization was easy to set up and manage in tests, allowing us to consolidate storage resources on the SAN and distribute them to servers. The appliances asynchronous and synchronous replication capabilities let us create local and remote copies of data volumes. In tests, it was relatively easy to create replicas, using either Fibre Channel or IP as the mode of replication transport. The StoreAge SVM doesnt have proprietary ties to any hardware vendor, so IT managers can replicate data to any backup target, such as an inexpensive ATA-based disk unit or a top-of-the-line storage system from such vendors as EMC Corp. or Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Click here to read about new storage virtualization offerings from Hitachi Data Systems. The snapshot capabilities let us make point-in-time copies of the primary data set and send the copies to remote locations. The StoreAge SVM allows only four point-in-time copies to be stored remotely, but officials said StoreAge plans to increase that number in future releases. For most small and midsize businesses, four point-in-time snapshots should suffice. In tests, it was easy to schedule snapshots using StoreAges management interface, and we found we could easily roll back data volumes after data corruption/deletion events. The StoreAge SVMs mirroring capabilities let us build data volume mirrors on our test SAN. We created mirrors that could be mounted for testing or used as backup targets. In addition, we were impressed by the appliances seamless failover, which quickly switched storage access from the primary to the secondary storage unit. Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.