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NAS consolidation options

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NetApp's V-Series NAS gateway: Formerly called gFiler (GF980 and GF960), NetApp renamed the product line the V-Series and recently introduced its V3050 and V3020 products. These products provide a one- or two-box (for high availability) gateway that attaches to SAN storage from Hitachi Data Systems Inc., HP, IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. V-Series products provide a maximum of 96TB of NAS space. A V-Series cluster can be configured in active/active mode sharing data service to back-end storage and can also be configured for automated failover.

NetApp's Ontap 7G operating system supports all enterprise-class capabilities. With Ontap 7G's "flex volumes," an administrator can oversubscribe file space because file-system space can grow or shrink without user intervention. For physical consolidation, NetApp provides up to 32 "virtual filers" configurable as management points to isolate one department's data services from another's.

OnStor Inc.'s and 3PAR Inc.'s UtiliCat: UtiliCat, a bundle that features OnStor's Bobcat series NAS gateway with 3PAR's InServ FC storage system, blurs the line between a NAS gateway and an integrated NAS file system. (OnStor recently integrated its product with Xiotech's Magnitude array.) UtiliCat can also attach to other vendors' FC storage, acting as a NAS gateway. In addition, it can support up to 384TB of NAS storage.

Rather than offering both file and block access through one system like NetApp

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and others, UtiliCat's block access goes directly to back-end storage and bypasses the filer altogether. Furthermore, both the filer front end and back-end storage can be expanded transparently to client access, which makes storage provisioning easier.

Bobcat's nodes act as a cluster providing file access to the shared back-end storage. Up to eight Bobcat nodes can be clustered, and any node can access any storage. File systems can be updated a node at a time, but can be read by multiple nodes. In case of a failure, any active node can pick up the file services of the failing node.

UtiliCat provides snapshot, asynchronous local data mirroring, virtual servers and full Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) support. Remote data mirroring can be added using SAN extenders. Virtual servers represent a partitioning of the file server into multiple, logical file-server gateways, each of which can be managed as a separate entity. For those clients who grew up managing their own file servers, a virtual server can provide a way to physically consolidate storage to one file server but logically still allow the client to manage their file system separately for physical consolidation. Up to 40 virtual servers can be configured across the eight-node cluster. A virtual server can be easily moved from one Bobcat node to another to better balance performance and/or workload requirements.

NAS consolidation alternatives

This was first published in December 2005

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