FalconStors IPStor continues to impress. This upgrade is a powerful storage management software package that allows IT managers to quickly allocate storage area network storage resources and protect data using a variety of techniques. Unlike competitors, IPStor can be run on either Linux or Solaris and is now also available as an appliance. More information is available at www.falconstor.com.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
In addition to its ability to allocate storage to servers over virtually any protocol, FalconStor has refined its data management and protection capabilities to make IPStor 4.0, which will ship this month, a solid foundation for managing storage.
IPStor 4.0 costs $10,000 per server, and plug-ins that provide additional capabilities cost extra. We tested a fully loaded IPStor server—with mirroring, replication and TimeMark data protection options—that would list for close to $50,000. This price is very competitive with similar storage management solutions.
IPStor sits between servers and storage units, controlling the allocation of resources and preventing servers from stomping on one anothers data. Multiprotocol support has always been a strength of IPStor: Since we first looked at the product in 2001, FalconStor has replaced its proprietary block-level IP storage protocol, which was way ahead of its time, with the emerging iSCSI standard. With the move to iSCSI, its still ahead of the curve—most vendors are still laboring to get their iSCSI implementations working.
Using IPStor 4.0, we found it was easy to allocate storage in a variety of ways. In tests, IPStor 4.0 easily carved up storage resources and allotted them efficiently, whether we presented storage as a NAS (network-attached storage) file-share using both Common Internet File System and Network File System or as virtual block-level devices using either Fibre Channel or iSCSI.
Like Fujitsu Software Technology Corp.s Softek Storage Provisioner (see review at www.eWEEK.com/labslinks), IPStor sits on the data path, eliminating the need for a lot of complex logical unit number masking and Fibre Channel zoning. However, unlike Storage Provisioner, which is Windows-based, IPStor can run on Linux or on Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris on the SPARC platform.
IPStor 4.0 has adequate built-in reporting functionality to see performance trends and utilization, but we would like to see tighter integration with an SRM (storage resource management) tool, similar to the way Fujitsu Softeks solutions work.
IPStor 4.0 has a wide variety of optional data protection tools to suit virtually every need.
Any-to-any mirroring (for heterogeneous storage) is supported, and we found it easy to set up and manage in tests. After simulating a storage unit failure, the mirroring solution automatically failed over data access to our spare mirror.
For long-range data protection, IPStor 4.0 has a replication option that asynchronously replicates data based on policies that administrators can configure (such as the amount of data changed, the time of day and so on).
Version 4.0 also has enhanced compression and encryption capabilities, which help secure and optimize replication jobs over WAN links.
In the future, FalconStor will add performance monitoring capabilities to help manage replica synchronization over WAN links, company officials said.
A third data protection tool—probably the most innovative in the package—is TimeMark, which allowed us to take incremental, point-in-time snapshots and instantly restore corrupt files.
Because TimeMark needs to store only data deltas, it is storage-efficient when compared with most solutions, which need to mount the entire disk image to do restores.
Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar is at email@example.com.