Cirrus Data Solutions completes non-disruptive migration capability with DMS 4.0 release

CDS previously addressed downtime in installation and migration, but the new version of its migration server offering addresses the final downtime stage during the final cut-over, with what it calls its “pMotion” technology, which lets both the data and the cutover workload be migrated to new storage with no outage.

Wayne Lam

Wayne Lam, CEO of Cirrus Data Solutions

Long Island-based Cirrus Data Solutions [CDS] has refreshed its flagship solution with the announcement of Data Migration Server (DMS) Version 4.0. While CDS has always had a low amount of disruption in its migration process, this release eliminates the last need for downtime from the process. It also makes significant improvements to provisioning.

CDS, which is still in the startup stage, is led by Wayne Lam, who is best known in the industry as the co-founder of FalconStor. While FalconStor made a very different kind of product from CDS, and was aimed at a higher point in the market, Lam said that he learned valuable lessons there which became core to CDS’ philosophy.

“FalconStor was heavily mission-critical enterprise,” Lam said. “That was 90 per cent of the accounts. We found that the hurdle of convincing customers to buy the product, and training partners to handle it, was way too hard, because of the complexity. We decided to solve those big problems by designing a much simpler product, which was easy to deploy.”

Ironically, Lam said that CDS kind of wandered into data migration.

“We didn’t even know at the start that we wanted to do data migration,” he said. “We were looking to deploy a pair of HA appliances with no down time, where you could just plug it in. We developed what become our Transparent Data Intercept [TDI] technology to do this. Data migration though, was the ideal kind of relatively simple process we were looking for. Data migration is easy, because you are just making a copy, and not touching production, so you won’t get the same level of concerns and objections. TDI thus became the cornerstone for our current product and future products.”

TDI technology, which CDS has patented, is built on the concept that data appliances should look like a wire when installed into a live SAN. It uses storage HBA ports to create a virtual cable, where the CDS appliance can be installed in-line between the switch and the storage unit, with no more difficulty than changing a Fiber Channel cable. This in-band capacity removes the need for downtime.

“The main pain points in migration always involve downtime, and are the cause of customer objections,” Lam said. “There was downtime to install, downtime to migrate, and downtime for the final cut-over from the old storage to the new. DMS initially eliminated the install and migration downtime, even host migration, but until this version 4.0, we had this same limitation, the five minutes of downtime in the final cutover.”

DMS Version 4.0 addresses this final downtime stage with what it calls is “pMotion” technology. pMotion – the name is a play on VMware’s vMotion, with the p here referring to ‘physical’ – lets both the data and the cutover workload be migrated to new storage with no outage.

“We benefited from all the years of virtualization experience with FalconStor, in that we can emulate the old storage so you can get rid of it,” Lam said.

Version 4.0 also introduces new Auto-allocation and Auto-provisioning features, which create new destinations for source data and eliminate what had been hours of work by automatically mapping them to the appropriate hosts automatically in minutes.

“The only way to become destination storage-aware is to integrate with popular destination storage,” Lam said. “We have plug-ins for all the major storage vendors. Using APIs provided by the vendor we match up each source LUN to the appropriate destination, and with one button, can quickly eliminate what used to be days of work.”

Lam also said that QoS has been improved by using unused bandwidth, which allows migration to be done quicker.

“With this product, one morning of training can make any reasonable person be able to use the product,” he said. “The product takes care of all the complexity. Partners will find it’s very easy, with a low knowledge hurdle.”

Ron Croce, the company’s Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing, also stressed that this version of DMS makes partners lives easier.

“Partners wrestle with multiple tools for migration, but with Cirrus, they have one product to fit all of their needs,” he said. “Partners like the flexibility of the product, and the ease of use. Two three hour training sessions and they are ready to go. The product is that easy to use.

“Now that we have greatly compressed the time the migration project takes, our tool lets them do more than twice the number of migrations in the same amount of time,” Croce added. “That’s a very compelling motivator.”

CDS sells entirely through partners unless an enterprise customer demands a direct sale.

“We don’t have a direct sales force of our own, and even when we are called in for enterprise work, there is typically a partner introduction and they are paid,” Croce said.

“Right now we have about 30 partners, and anticipate growing it to over 100 over the next year,” he said. “We are just starting to work in Canada, as well as in Europe and Asia.