VMware vSphere is clearly trending toward hosting more mission critical applications. However one objection that many enterprises still have to virtualizing these applications is the lack of an enterprise caliber multi-pathing software driver on VMware vSphere. Today the release of Symantec’s Veritas Dymanic Multi-Pathing for VMware 6.0 not only overcomes that objection, it opens the door for enterprises to move more mission critical applications to VMware vSphere.

Before enterprises virtualize many mission critical applications, they need assurance that the virtualization solution meets certain prerequisites. Availability, compatibility, failover, load balancing, predictability, reliability and stability are just some of the tangible and intangible features that must be present before enterprises seriously entertain moving these applications to a virtualized infrastructure, as opposed to keeping them on physical systems.

A specific feature that has precluded enterprises from moving their mission critical applications on VMware vSphere is the lack of availability of an enterprise caliber multi-pathing driver for VMware. While vSphere natively includes its own Native Multi-pathing Plugin (NMP) and is universally supported by storage arrays, it lacks certain advanced multi-pathing features such as load balancing, proactive failover, and visibility into storage arrays. These are features that enterprises expect and need to justify moving their mission critical applications from a physical to a virtual environment.

Storage Array Multi-pathing Support

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Source: DCIG, LLC

This is what makes today’s Dymanic Multi-Pathing for VMware 6.0 announcement from Symantec so compelling. Enterprises for the first time have access to a robust third party multi-pathing driver that is already supported by nearly 70% of storage arrays on the market – more than 3x of its nearest competitor – but now with the flexibility to provide multi-pathing to any VMware guest VM.

A growing and deepening relationship between Symantec and VMware has enabled this functionality to see the light of day. To date, VMware have been extraordinarily protective of allowing applications – any application – to access its hypervisor kernel for good reason: an unstable application with access to its hypervisor could destabilize it and bring down the entire ESX host and all of its host VMs.

However Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing has over a decade of experience in mission critical enterprise environments and is already certified across a multitude of hypervisors (Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat Linux.) So it should come as no surprise that this wealth of experience coupled with VMware’s desire to further extend its reach into enterprise environments has resulted in VMware granting Symantec’s Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing access its kernel. Further, it is being done without using workarounds such as using a vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA).

Symantec Dynamic Multi-Pathing Placement in
VMware ESX Hypervisor

DMP VMware vSphere hypervisor.JPG

Source: Symantec

VMware granting Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing access to its hypervisor kernel is a win for everyone involved. It gives VMware what it needed – access to stable, high end multi-pathing software that is supported by the vast majority of storage arrays on the market. By enabling Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing to be placed in its hypervisor, VMware may now extend its reach into enterprise environments by overcoming one of the final objections that enterprises still have to virtualizing their missions critical applications using VMware.

Symantec also wins.  Everyone from VMware to Symantec to enterprise shops recognized that moving Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing into the VMware kernel had to be addressed for VMware to continue its ascent into the enterprise. Now for any organization that wants multi-pathing software that gives them the flexibility to virtualize their environment using almost any vendor’s storage array and get advanced multi-pathing functionality, Symantec Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing is the only logical choice enabling Symantec to maintain its firm hold on the leadership position in this space.

Finally and maybe most importantly, enterprises win. They can finally start to realistically look to virtualize the balance of their mission critical applications using VMware vSphere without having to sacrifice any of the storage availability, failover or visibility functions to which they were accustomed using Symantec DMP.

Multi-pathing software does not get nearly the attention it deserves. But as any individual responsible for supporting enterprise data centers understands multi-pathing software plays a critical role in delivering the type of functionality that enterprises need to justify virtualizing their enterprise applications.

By VMware granting Symantec Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing access to its hypervisor, one of the last technical objections to implementing VMware in mission critical environments is overcome. By Symantec offering Veritas Dynamic Multi-Pathing at about $900 per quad core processor, the business objections to implementing are also mitigated making it almost a no-brainer in terms of what multi-pathing solution to use.