Symantec supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Xen

With RHEL 5 officially out, Symantec pledged to support it with its storage and clustering applications, plus extended its Storage Foundation suite to Xen virtualization.

As Red Hat Inc. formally launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 today, Symantec Corp. disclosed that its portfolio of storage management and virtualization applications would be fully supported on that operating system.

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Laura Shepard, the Linux product line manager for Symantec, said that Veritas Storage Foundation, Veritas Cluster Server and Veritas NetBackup would all be fully supported on RHEL5 within 90 days of launch.

Symantec will also launch a beta of its Storage Foundation volume management and file system software, plus its dynamic multi-pathing software for Xen, the open source virtual machine monitor (VMM) that Red Hat has integrated into RHEL 5. Volume manager software allows IT administrators to easily create and resize storage volumes, while multi-pathing ensures that an application can take an alternate route to its storage volumes if the primary path fails. Storage Foundation pricing will be by server tier and pricing will start at $400.

"For the first time with any server virtualization platform, this will unite storage virtualization and I/O multi-pathing with virtualized workloads, enabling a standardized, centralized management model across all workloads and all operating systems, physical or virtual," Shepard said.

Boost for Xen

Bob Laliberte, an analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., said the pairing of the storage portfolio with RHEL5 and Xen marked yet another instance of Symantec's drive to support every facet of the data center.

Part of [Symantec's standardization approach] is that they are supporting all the technology in the data center, Laliberte said. "It makes perfect sense that Symantec would want to support Xen, because Symantec has worked very closely with VMware, and their products are often paired together as part of a high availability solution."

Symantec announced a VMware ESX-specific version of its Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) 5.0 at VMworld last November.

Laliberte was particularly keen on Symantec's multi-pathing support. "The biggest part of the Xen support is not just that they are supporting it, but that they will support I/O multi-pathing in a virtual environment. This is really complex stuff that most major storage software vendors are trying to figure out. Most are waiting for [N_Port ID Virtualization] technology, but Symantec has cracked the code with Xen," Laliberte said. NPIV is a feature of Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) that allows multiple virtual machines to share the single HBA.

Basic data center standardization

In addition to Xen support, Laliberte sees value for IT managers in Symantec's continued push to standardize tools and management processes for data center managers.

"The idea behind [Symantec's] standardization push is to help provide a consistent set of tools to manage a heterogeneous environment," he said. "Enterprise customers have always recognized that it is easier to standardize on something for simplicity's sake, whether it be on the level of the operating system or with the same storage vendor to reduce complexity."

Symantec will also offer a free "Basic" version of Veritas Volume Manager products for deployment on edge environments. The company will also offer Storage Foundation Management Server free of charge.

The Basic release, Shepard said, was for IT managers who want to deploy Linux on smaller one-node clusters. "They can try it out on a test bed, where they might like to run it for three to six months," she said. "Existing customers would use Basic to expand their existing usage."

But don't let the fact that these tools are free fool you, Laliberte said. "These are powerful tools that will help drive adoption and will certainly reduce costs for enterprise customers," he said.

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