Startup's software aims to simplify management of virtual storage

Company claims its Pancetera Unite virtual appliance can reduce up to 80 percent of virtual server traffic for backups

A new company founded by former executives from data deduplication vendor Data Domain today announced they've emerged from development with a new product aimed at simplifying the management of backups in virtual server environments.

Pancetera Software, founded two years ago, unveiled its first product, Pancetera Unite, a virtual appliance that can manage backups across an limitless virtual server environment, relieving sysadmins of the chore of deploying backup agents on virtual machines (VMs).

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Pancetera Unite runs on a VM and creates backup export mount points along with a single mangement view of a virtual server backup environment, according to Bart Bartlett, vice president of marketing for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company. It runs regardless of the backend storage type, be it network-attached storage (NAS) or a storage area network (SAN).

"This gives you a simplified view into your entire VMware storage infrastructure, independent of the underlying storage topology," Bartlett said.

Storage administrators are shown a directory that points to a synthetic file system that represents each of a server farm's hypervisors. The underlying files on those VMs are then exposed to the Unite software and can be backed up in part or as a whole. "You just back up the Unite mount point," Bartlett said.

Unite uses VMware's published APIs for block-level access to the VMware environment. The product has also been architected to extend into other hypervisor environments.

Logan Lemming, director of IT for California's El Dorado County Office of Education, said server virtualization had allowed his IT team to be more responsive, but it also "dropped an iron curtain" around his storage that kept them from interacting with VM file systems. He had been using what he called expensive and complex agent-based backup software.

"Pancetera Unite blows that whole paradigm away," he said in a statement. "With Pancetera Unite, my environment is unlocked again. I can interact directly with my virtual file system, determining when and how to backup my systems depending on my organization's needs, not which features I've licensed."

Pancetera Unite includes several features, such as SmartView, which provides a single, unified view of all virtual storage across hypervisors and data storage. The tool allows sysadmins to browse, move and copy VM files in a Windows explorer view of a single network drive the same way the contents of any Windows folder can be manipulated.

Pancetera's SmartRead is aimed at reducing storage I/O by eliminating unused blocks of data from the backup process.

"VMs are commonly oversubscribed," Bartlett said. "A lot of times, you'll have a 20GB virtual machine disk that might only have 4GB of in-use data that a Windows file system is using. We actually just read the 4GB and ... clean up the rest of the file.

Bartlett claimed that by running VM backups through Pancetera Unite, up to 80 percent of the traffic can be eliminated.

Unite is available immediately and will retail for $1,000 per CPU socket.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Startup's software aims to simplify management of virtual storage " was originally published by Computerworld.

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