Virtualisation hardware specifications

Product snapshots highlighting key specifications for a cross-section of popular virtualisation hardware products that run the gamut from dedicated appliances, to intelligent switches.

Storage virtualisation allows administrators to pool storage resources that can then be organised, allocated and managed without regard for the physical location of disks or disk subsystems. Although host-based virtualisation can be accomplished by running commercial virtualisation software on a generic host server (see chapter 1 of this guide for virtualisation software), software can also be packed with hardware in the form of a dedicated appliance, incorporated into storage subsystems or executed through an intelligent switch. The product snapshots in this chapter highlight key specifications for a cross-section of popular virtualisation hardware products that run the gamut from dedicated appliances, to storage systems with virtualisation capability, to intelligent switches. The following products were selected based on input from industry analysts and editors, and specifications are current as of November 2006.

The following specifications have been provided by vendors and are periodically updated. Vendors are welcome to submit their updates and new product specifications to [email protected]

Go to the first product snapshot, or select the desired product below:


  • Acopia Networks Inc.; Adaptive Resource Switch (ARX) switch
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module (SSM)
  • EqualLogic Inc.; PS Series Storage Arrays
  • FalconStor Software Inc.; (IPStor) NSS appliances (Models 310 and 350)
  • Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp.; ETERNUS VS900
  • Network Appliance Inc.; V-Series appliances
  • OnStor, Inc.; Bobcat Series NAS Gateway & Pantera Clustered NAS
  • Reldata Inc.; IP Storage Gateway 9240
  • Sanrad Inc.; V-Switch 3800

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    Product Snapshot #1

    Product: Acopia Networks, Inc.; Adaptive Resource Switch (ARX) switch 

    Maximum Capacity: Unlimited
    Largest Virtual Volume: Unlimited
    Maximum Disks: Not applicable - we do not aggregate physical disks, we aggregate file servers or NAS devices. 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 384 virtual volumes (NAS virtualisation volumes) 
    Virtualisation Software: Not provided
    Maximum Throughput: 2.6 GB/sec (~12Gbps)
    Maximum Transactions: 600,000 IOPS 
    Security Features: Yes; Radius, Kerberos, NTLM, NIS, Access Control Lists 
    Provisioning Support: Yes; thin provisioning 
    Management Software: Any SNMP compliant management product 
    Implementation: The platform interfaces with the existing IP network fabric. It uses industry standard NFS and CIFS protocols to virtualise the existing file storage infrastructure. It does not require new storage hardware or software, and it does not require agent deployments across the infrastructure. 
    Snapshot Support: Snapshot integration
    Reporting and Logging: The platform support extensive logging and reporting for all file storage and storage management operations. 
    Connectivity: The platform supports Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. 
    Vendor Comment: Acopia's intelligent file virtualisation platforms are the only devices on the market today that are able to support heterogeneous (multi-protocol, multi-vendor) environments, real-time policy enforcement and the scale and performance requirements of large enterprises. 
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: ARX500 is $24,995; ARX1000 is $55,000; ARX6000 is $175,000 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #2

    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9000 Storage Services Module (SSM) 

    Maximum Capacity: Maximum capacity of manageable storage is 16 PB 
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: In theory a single volume could aggregate 4K disks (subject to the actual volume size of 2 TB). However, a more practical number is 10 disks. 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: The SSM itself can support 12K volumes. 
    Virtualisation Software: EMC Invista and Incipient NSP. 
    Maximum Throughput: 40 Gbps
    Maximum Transactions: 500,000 IOPS
    Security Features: An external mgmt station that needs to connect securely to our SSM connects via the Switch Supervisor which then relays the connection to the SSM. 
    Provisioning Support: The SSM software APIs provide intrinsic support for virtualisation software features such as thin provisioning. Availability of the feature is determined by the virtualisation software that runs on the SSM. 
    Management Software: FM/DM can manage the SSM and the provisioning (we have SNMP MIBs). 
    Implementation: Typically a solution involves virtualisation servers (which are available in a clustered and redundant configuration) and a set of SSMs (which reside in a switch). Multiple SSMs are placed in each redundant fabric that hosts are connected to. The multiple SSMs within a fabric deliver on scalability and availability. The SSM across redundant fabrics are primarily for availability but can also address scalability requirements. The SSMs are focused on the datapath while the virtualisation servers focus on management and control path. This partitioning of control and datapaths allow the solution to scale and deliver very high performance. 
    Snapshot Support: The SSM software APIs provide intrinsic support for virtualisation software feature such as Detached Mirror Snapshots, CoW and NoW snapshots. Actual availability of this feature is subject to the virtualisation software selected to run on the SSM. 
    Reporting and Logging: Syslog, SNMP traps, separate debug logs for the control path, for each datapath processor and for the different applications. 
    Connectivity: 32 FC front panel ports and backplane connectivity. The platform doesn't impose any restriction and it can work seamlessly whether the traffic comes from the front panel ports or the fabric. 
    Vendor Comment: The product is currently in several field trials and we expect to see these deployments go to production shortly. This progress with our best of breed custom hardware that enables fabric based virtualisation validates the need for solutions that reduce pain points such as LUN reprovisioning, tiered storage and data mobility tied to information life cycle management. 
    Availability: Not yet available; In field trials since Q3-2005 
    Base Cost: Subject to virtualisation software being deployed 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #3

    Product: EqualLogic Inc.; PS Series Storage Arrays 

    Maximum Capacity: 84 TB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 15 TB
    Maximum Disks: 128
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 1,024
    Virtualisation Software: VMware Infrastructure 3 (ESX Server), VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual Server, XenSource Xen 
    Maximum Throughput: 2400 MB/s per SAN 
    Maximum Transactions: 480,000 per SAN 
    Security Features: Mutual CHAP, SSH and SSL are all supported 
    Provisioning Support: Yes; EqualLogic's internal storage virtualisation makes provisioning volumes, LUNs and new arrays easy and the products support thin provisioning as well. 
    Management Software: PS Series arrays can be managed through their own intuitive GUI and a CLI, but also work with SNMP-based management products such as HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, and backup, recovery and archiving software products from many vendors. 
    Implementation: The PS Series arrays can be fully functional within 20 minutes. Automated configuration capabilities eliminate complex and cumbersome manual tasks, enabling a quick start. 
    Snapshot Support: Yes; EqualLogic's products support space-efficient snapshots, which can be read-only or read-write. The system supports 512 differentiated per LUN and 10,000 per SAN. 
    Reporting and Logging: SNMP traps, email notifications, 'phone-home' capabilities, Syslog, alerting through the GUI and CLI 
    Connectivity: 3 gigabit Ethernet ports per array, and multiple arrays can be combined in a SAN to provide up to 24 gigabit Ethernet ports per SAN 
    Vendor Comment: EqualLogic's PS Series Arrays automatically virtualise and load balance data to optimise capacity utilisation across disks, but also to use all available system performance across disks, cache and network connection, so customers can get better performance with less storage. These intelligent virtualisation and load balancing capabilities underpin EqualLogic's philosophy to simplify storage, delivering ease-of-use that EqualLogic's 1700 customers rave about. 
    Availability: All products currently available 
    Base Cost: List prices start at $22K 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #4

    Product: FalconStor Software; (IPStor) NSS appliances (Models 310 and 350) 

    Maximum Capacity: Model 310: 8TB; Model 350: 512TB 
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2TB per virtual LUN 
    Maximum Disks: Up to 64 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: Model 310: 512; Model 350: 1,024 
    Virtualisation Software: Powered by IPStor software 
    Maximum Throughput: Not provided 
    Maximum Transactions: Not provided 
    Security Features: IPStor includes CHAP and mutual CHAP authentication for iSCSI connected hosts, encryption for data during remote replication, and authenticated access control for administrators. 
    Provisioning Support: Standard provisioning plus "capacity on demand" expansion 
    Management Software: Most major products 
    Implementation: As turnkey appliance; just add storage. 
    Snapshot Support: 64 per LUN standard, up to 256 per LUN optional 
    Reporting and Logging: Not provided 
    Connectivity: Fibre Channel, iSCSI, CIFS, NFS 
    Vendor Comment: Because they are powered by IPStor, NSS-series appliances provide the full set of virtualisation, provisioning, protection, and management services independent of storage vendor or physical attachment type. The storage being virtualised can be heterogeneous, both in attachment type and vendor, without any loss of functionality. 
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Model 310: $40,000; Model 350: $76,000; Replication option, including encryption and compression, $8,000 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #5

    Product: Fujitsu Computer Systems; ETERNUS VS900 

    Maximum Capacity: 3.5TB 
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: The maximum number of physical LUNs that can be aggregated in a single volume is 16. 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 65,535 virtual volumes 
    Virtualisation Software: Fujitsu Systemwalker Resource Coordinator 
    Maximum Throughput: 2Gbps (256MB/s) per port 
    Maximum Transactions: Depends on the storage systems being used 
    Security Features: Not supported 
    Provisioning Support: Not supported
    Management Software: Not supported 
    Implementation: One pair of virtualisation nodes are connected to either directly to servers/storages or via SAN; Install Fujitsu Resource Coordinator on a management server; The management server and the virtualisation nodes are connected via LAN. 
    Snapshot Support: Not supported 
    Reporting and Logging: Log files can be exported to servers. 
    Connectivity: 1/2Gbps (Full Duplex), Class 3 & Class F 
    Vendor Comment: Out of band, network based, cache less virtualisation with minimum latency. 128 port version will become available in 4Q 2007. 
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Starts at $200K 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #6

    Product: Network Appliance Inc.; V-Series appliances

    Maximum Capacity: 504 TB
    Largest Virtual Volume: 16 TB
    Maximum Disks: 1,008
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 200
    Virtualisation Software: Network Appliance Data ONTAP 7G software 
    Maximum Throughput: Not provided
    Maximum Transactions: 50,139 ops/sec. According to SPCsfs
    Security Features: Yes; NetApp V-Series systems support a range of data protection software including: SnapRestore®, SnapMirror®, SnapVault®, SnapLock® Enterprise, LockVault™ Enterprise 
    Provisioning Support: Yes
    Management Software: MultiStore; SnapMover; SnapDrive; SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange; SnapManager for Microsoft SQL Server; Single Mailbox Recovery; VFM (Virtual File Manager); SnapValidator; FlexClone; FlexCache; DataFabric Manager; SecureAdmin; ApplianceWatch for HP OpenView; ApplianceWatch for Tivoli; HiScan Agent for HDS HiCommand (applicable only to HDS arrays) 
    Implementation: NetApp V-Series systems seamlessly integrate into mission-critical enterprise class SAN infrastructures, allowing users to deliver NAS as well as block solutions, while dramatically increasing utilisation of your infrastructure. Companies gain the advantages of enterprise Fibre Channel storage connectivity without the costs of physically connecting each host to the SAN infrastructure, thereby optimising storage usage and preserving future scalability. The NetApp V-Series product line also supports a broad range of IBM, Hitachi Limited, and HP storage subsystems, including the IBM Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) series, IBM TotalStorage DS4000 series, Hitachi Limited SANRISE, and HP StorageWorks XP series. These enterprise-class and modular storage systems support diverse business applications across the enterprise and provide highly scalable solutions. 
    Snapshot Support: Yes
    Reporting and Logging: V-Series systems have a functionality called AutoSupport. The "phone home" functionality runs direct from the controller head sends an email to NetApp support and any other pre-defined addresses that user configures capability that reports. 
    Connectivity: FC SAN, IP SAN, and NAS 
    Vendor Comment: Not provided
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Varies based on deployment 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #7

    Product: ONStor Inc.; Bobcat Series NAS Gateway & Pantera Clustered NAS 

    Maximum Capacity: 40 PB 
    Largest Virtual Volume: 100 TB 
    Maximum Disks: Unlimited 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 400 file systems 
    Virtualisation Software: Compatible with DataCore, IBM SVC, Acopia, NeoPath 
    Maximum Throughput: Sequential: 300MB/sec 
    Maximum Transactions: 36,000 NFS operations per sec (please note this is a file level operation. It translates to a far greater number of block operations on the back end) 
    Security Features: As a file server, security is integrated with directory services (Active Directory for Windows, NIS for UNIX/Linux) 
    Provisioning Support: ONStor provisions capacity from a single pool shared by all file systems. The feature, called AutoGrow, allows available capacity to be allocated automatically where and when it's needed using rules. 
    Management Software: As a file server, it supports all of the applications that file servers typically require. Backup: Symantec, Legato, Commvault; Device monitoring: Openview (ONStor supports SNMP and has its own MIB); Anti Virus: McAffee, Norton 
    Implementation: The device is implemented as a file server. Applications typically include file sharing and home directory. Shared storage for servers (such as web servers) is also common. Because the system bandwidth is linearly scalable, it provides a scalable storage backend for growing web server farms. Capacity can be configured in two ways: Disk supplied by ONStor or by 3rd party vendors, or share disk space with applications on the SAN. 
    Snapshot Support: Yes; File level snapshots are integrated. Up to 48 point-in-time images of each hosted file system to be recorded on either a scheduled or on-demand basis. To minimise storage requirements, only file system differences are recorded. For fault tolerance, the images may be accessed by any of the ONStor NAS Gateways. 
    Reporting and Logging: Full reporting including performance, capacity, and CPU utilisation. Quotas may be set and monitored on the user and group levels. Automated diagnostics monitor system health. If desired, they will regularly report information to ONStor Support, providing continuous health monitoring to check for anomalies and/or configuration errors. 
    Connectivity: Per node: 4 gigabit Ethernet and 2 2Gb FC. Per cluster: Up to 32 gigabit Ethernet, 16 2Gb FC 
    Vendor Comment: Virtual servers provide a permanent mount point for users and applications. Each virtual server (up to 256 in a cluster) appears to clients and servers on the LAN as a complete NAS device with a unique identity, IP address and security authentication. But the power of a virtual server lies in its mobility. It can be transparently relocated among all ONStor devices in the cluster for load balancing, failover, or performance scaling. The admin is therefore free to grow capacity, grow bandwidth, even take machines out of service, with no impact to users and applications. 
    Availability: Both products currently available 
    Base Cost: Bobcat NAS Gateway: starts at $20,000, including all required software and virtual server functionality. Pantera Clustered NAS: starts at $40,000 with 6TB of storage, including all required software and virtual server functionality. 
    Detailed Specs: Bobcat:
    Detailed Specs: Pantera:
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #8

    Product: Reldata Inc.; IP Storage Gateway 9240 

    Maximum Capacity: Depending on the application, it can manage several PB. 
    Largest Virtual Volume: A practical virtual volume size would be several 100TB. This again depends on the application. 
    Maximum Disks: There is no hard limit on the number of physical disks the 9240 can manage or aggregate in the volume group. However, a reasonable limit would be around 512. 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: There is no hard limit on the number of virtual disk volumes the 9240 can support. However, a reasonable limit would be around 256 per volume group. 
    Virtualisation Software: The platform has a built-in high-speed virtualisation software that uses proprietary format. 
    Maximum Throughput: 370MB/s with real storage arrays. 
    Maximum Transactions: 110,000 IOPS on file shares, 36,000 on straight-through non-cached iSCSI operations with real storage arrays. 
    Security Features: IPsec encryption and CHAP authentication are available for iSCSI. Active Directory authentication for SMB/CIFS. NIS support for NFS. IPSec encryption and compression is available for remote replication on block and file levels. 
    Provisioning Support: The 9240 can map LUNs directly to iSCSI target, provision virtual block-level LUNs over iSCSI, and file-level volumes over SMB/CIFS and NFS. 
    Management Software: The 9240 is managed using a proprietary Java-based web interface or web services API. 
    Implementation: One or more 9240 devices are connected directly to storage arrays, JBODs, tape libraries and/or fibre channel SAN on the back-end, and to the Ethernet switch(es) on the front-end. All provisioning, block and file, is performed over IP. 
    Snapshot Support: The virtualisation platform supports unlimited read-only and writable snapshots and clones per virtual volume. Snapshot working storage can be expanded dynamically as the snapshot usage grows. 
    Reporting and Logging: The 9240 supports e-mail notifications and SNMP traps. It also provides front panel and audible alarm notification for certain failures. 
    Connectivity: Ethernet/IP: 6x1 GbE copper ports (auto-negotiating); SCSI: 2xUltra320 LVD ports; Fibre Channel: 2x4 Gb/s optic FC ports(auto-negotiating) 
    Vendor Comment: It consolidates and virtualises industry-standard Fibre Channel, SCSI and iSCSI storage resources and presents them as high-performance, scalable and independent iSCSI SAN volumes and CIFS or NFS NAS shares. The appliance offers a comprehensive set of reliable, high performance storage protection and replication features. 
    Availability: December 2006
    Base Cost: MSRP: $31,500 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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    Product Snapshot #9

    Product: SANRAD Inc.; V-Switch 3800 

    Maximum Capacity: 8 PB 
    Largest Virtual Volume: 64 TB 
    Maximum Disks: 64 for a single volume 
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: We can create up to 51,200 virtual volumes 
    Virtualisation Software: Storage Pro for V-Switch 
    Maximum Throughput: Qty 3 IP ports at line speed – 300 MBs 
    Maximum Transactions: 30,000 IOPS 
    Security Features: ACL, SRP, RADIUS and iSNS 
    Provisioning Support: LUN virtualisation and storage services including: mirroring, data migration, partitioning, striping, resizing, remote and local replication and Snapshot with Rollback 
    Management Software: All iSCSI initiators, MS MPIO and VSS, Veritas, Commvault, CA 
    Implementation: The V-Switch resides between the FC SAN and iSCSI enabled servers on an IP network. The V Switch performs volume creation and management using storage virtualisation technology. The V Switch receives a LUN from the FC SAN, just like any other FC connected server on the SAN. However, this LUN is not used "as is". The LUN is placed into the storage pool of the V Switch and is managed as a shareable resource. Additional LUNs from any FC array can be used to increase the capacity of the storage pool. From this central storage pool, unique virtual volumes are created for the iSCSI connected servers. By using V Switch storage virtualisation, a couple of LUNs and a few FC switch ports is all that is needed to create and deliver storage resources to hundreds of iSCSI connected servers. 
    Snapshot Support: Yes; There are 32 SNAPshots per volumes (increasing to 256 in 2007) Snapshots can be scheduled, triggered by a script or can take advantage of Microsoft VSS. 
    Reporting and Logging: A complete CLI can also be used for customising or automating StoragePro operations to synchronise with server applications. StoragePro also supports Telnet. 
    Connectivity: 8 FC ports for connecting to the SAN, 3 iSCSI IP ports for connecting to the IP iSCSI server LAN. RS232 and 10/100 out of band mgt port. 
    Vendor Comment: SANRAD solutions provide every server within an organisation with low cost SAN connectivity and management. Specifically, the V-Switch 3800 delivers the maximum speed, scalability and storage capacity required by today's enterprises while retaining the cost benefits inherent to IP SANs. 
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: $12,000 to $39,000 
    Detailed Specs: 
    Vendor URL: 

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