Yesterday, at the Dell Storage Forum in Orlando, storage vendor CommVault announced it was partnering with Dell to create a new architecture that the two call Converged Virtual Infrastructure Building Block. While a mouthful (and not something that you make a snappy acronym out of either), the idea is to create a way to make virtual servers easier to replicate and manage.

By abstracting a lot of information into these basic blocks, it is faster to scale up a virtual server infrastructure. The vendors stated that it took 30 minutes to create persistent EqualLogic snapshot-based recovery copies of 500 virtual machines with a total of 15 TB datastore, largely because it was contained in a single building block. In another 30 minutes, you could replicate another 2,000 VMs.

The currently supported pieces of the architecture include Dell's PowerEdge Blade servers, EqualLogic Storage networking arrays, VMware vSphere/vCenter and CommVault's Simpana 9 storage management software. The latter is used to take snapshots of the current state of the VMs and used as part of the backup and provisioning efforts.

Obviously, for this architecture to be truly useful, other storage management and array vendors need to join with their support, but this is a good starting attempt at trying to make it easier for larger-scale mixed-vendor virtual environments to be more automatically provisioned. "We generally steer away from device-specific recipes that have relatively short lives. And we focus first on keeping the VMs running by eliminating storage-related disruptions altogether, irrespective of the hardware choices they make for storage or servers," says Augie Gonzalez, DataCore Software's product and channel marketing manager. DataCore makes SANSymphony, a competing storage manager to Simpana.