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Not all scale-out NAS systems are created equal

Ezine

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You may already be sold on the concept of scale-out NAS, but scale-out systems vary widely and you’ll have plenty of decisions to make before buying one.

Scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) has arrived. But if you said it’s been around for a while, you’d also be right -- sort of. But using a clustered file system and building NAS around it was far from being real NAS. NAS implies simplicity, and those home-cooked systems never quite fulfilled that requirement.

Isilon, now a part of EMC, is probably most responsible for making scale-out NAS a reality. Isilon came to market approximately a decade ago and struggled to educate us on the virtues of scale-out architectures. It was an uphill climb as NetApp and EMC, lacking such an architecture, trivialized its need. But Isilon prevailed.

NetApp recognized the potential of scale-out and bought Spinnaker Networks in 2003. It took a while to get everything integrated, but NetApp is now fully in the scale-out NAS game. Dell is, too, after acquiring Exanet, and offers PowerVault or EqualLogic storage behind Exanet software. Hewlett-Packard (HP) also went the acquisition route and picked up Ibrix, which it uses in front of LeftHand Networks or 3PAR storage. IBM used its own General Parallel File System (GPFS) as the basis of its Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS). Hitachi recently bought BlueArc, which, for all practical purposes, also had a scale-out NAS offering. Smaller players, including DataDirect

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Networks (DDN) and Panasas, are also in the market. Scale Computing, focused on the small- and medium-sized business/small- and medium-sized enterprise (SMB/SME) market, has a scale-out product that uses IBM’s GPFS on top of its own scale-out block offering.

This was first published in January 2012

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