The Ultamus Series of primary storage appliances offers one or two storage processors with up to four 8TB expansion arrays. The embedded Protection OS software, based on software Overland recently acquired from Zetta Systems Inc., provides a series of features designed to protect data and simplify capacity management, including high availability, snapshots, remote and local replication and thin provisioning. The appliances can be deployed in either an Ethernet or Fibre Channel SAN (storage area network).
Thin provisioning allows users to buy storage capacity on demand, allowing organizations to add more physical capacity—and pay for it—only when needed.
"You can essentially dynamically fulfill an assignment or storage provision that youve made statically at a larger size," said Bob Farkaly, director of product marketing at the San Diego company. "For example, when you start up a new application server you can tell it that it has 2TB of storage, when in essence it only has 10GB. As the physical storage fills up, Ultamus sends the systems administrator messages that say its filling up, so we have to add more existing physical capacity or buy new physical capacity."
Thin provisioning is also helpful when organizations perform a full volume copy or an initial synchronization and replication. Because only application data itself is transferred, less bandwidth is consumed.
The products snapshot technology can be used for instant recovery, allowing users to go back in time to snapshots that have been taken based on a predetermined schedule, with little or no impact on system performance. By doing this, system administrators can find the best set of data to recover to after a system glitch.
The Ultamus Series replication copies or moves only data that has been changed from one Ultamus appliance to another, saving bandwidth, while also providing strong encryption. In addition, the systems high availability with active failover and failback allows administrators to switch over to a secondary path if one of the Ultamus storage processors or storage controllers suffers a failure, without losing access.
Overland chose to develop a new primary storage product rather than expand its Reo line of disk-based appliances—a move Farkaly said makes more sense.
"People have asked us to expand our Reo line to primary storage, but we were reluctant to do that because we didnt think it had the right set for typical applications like Exchange and SQL Server," he said. "But the Ultamus has the performance, reliability and protection characteristics to add to the primary storage device in mid-sized businesses."
The Ultamus Series is geared to midsize businesses or divisions of larger companies, typically with less than 1,000 employees, that are dependent on continuous access to data to do their jobs. "If they suffer a data loss or application error or some sort of critical failure, they can use the snapshotting and replication capabilities to recover quickly," Farkaly said.
Overlands approach to primary storage, while somewhat different from the approach its competitors have taken, may be just what the midmarket needs, said Rick Villars, vice president of storage systems research at IDC, of Framingham, Mass.
"One path has been to keep commoditizing hardware and put more of the focus and value on selling the software solutions that go along with it, but Overland is saying it to the other way: The simplicity is all in one bundle. You buy the storage, and you get with it automatically the replication and management," he said. "Its a different way of approaching the market that probably will be more palatable to some customers and resellers."