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Quantum gets NASty with shared SAN software

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Quantum is targeting the high-end NAS market with version 3 of its StorNext data management software, which now includes client software for PCs and workstations to give them heterogeneous and shared access to files stored on a SAN.

The basis of StorNext 3.0 is a shared file system for the SAN, similar in approach to Acopia, Brocade's StorageX, Cisco's NeoPath and EMC Rainfinity, but for block storage rather than NAS.

Earlier versions only allowed SAN-attached servers to access the file system, but Quantum has now added client software for Ethernet-attached Windows and Linux PCs. The client agent can also fail over from one NIC to another, said Quantum's market operations manager Alistair Washbourne.

He said this means StorNext can compete with high performance NAS in areas such as broadcast, rich media, and high-performance computing. He acknowledged that it requires a software agent on the client, which NAS does not, but claimed that giving users direct access to the SAN could be three to five times faster than routing their data access through a NAS system.

"The real benefit is direct access to the file system on the SAN - it's for large files where you require shared access from workstations," he said. "StorNext is very large scale - we wouldn't go under 20TB. Most applications are 100TB or more and it really needs at least a 1GB/s SAN." The software is already running at CERN as part of its ALICE experiment, he added.

The new release also rolls in Quantum's data de-duplication and hierarchical storage management technologies, allowing less frequently used data to be hived off automatically onto a secondary disk tier or a tape library. The company claimed that by reducing the data volumes involved, de-duplication means that files can stay on secondary disks longer before moving off to tape.

Like other SAN file systems, StorNext 3.0 requires a metadata controller - a server within the SAN. As well as file management, this handles data de-duplication and storage tiering. In addition, because the storage is virtualised and pooled, disk arrays can be added or swapped out while the system is active - a sort of hot-plug capability for the SAN.

"StorNext came from the ADIC acquisition and is 100 per cent software, though we can also provide tape libraries as part of a total solution," Washbourne said. He added that while Quantum does not sell disk arrays, it can source those from partners such as Infortrend and LSI Logic. ®

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