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BlueArc branches into secondary storage

Beth Pariseau
BlueArc Corp. is expanding into secondary storage with a high-density package for nearline/archival storage and software updates designed to enhance security and disaster recovery for virtual server environments.

The BlueArc Nearline/Archival Solution is a bundle of any Titan chassis with Xyratex Inc.'s SA-48 RAID array, which can hold 48 SATA drives and allows for drives to be spun down to a lower idling speed for power savings. The disk spin-down capability is different than the MAID offered from other vendors because the SA-48 doesn't power drives down completely. The configuration won't become available until Dec. 6; pricing was not available.

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In addition to packing more storage into a smaller enclosure with the Xyratex product, BlueArc upgraded its management software. SiliconUpdate 5.0 doubles the previous version's scalability for nodes, file system size and LUN size. The latest version supports 8 nodes in a cluster, 2 PB in one file system and LUNs to 64 TB.

"This will allow users to create a giant content repository for nearline and archival purposes," said BlueArc director of product marketing John Affeld.

This attempt by BlueArc to diversify its product line will be welcome news to its existing customer base, according to Marc Staimer, founder of Dragon Slayer Consulting. He said the upgrade allows customers to consolidate systems by replacing separate file servers with the Titan network attached storage (NAS) head and their direct attached storage (DAS) with BlueArc partners' networked enclosures.

Other updates to SiliconUpdate 5.0 are meant to help users consolidate virtual file servers specifically onto the Titan head. The system will now support separate authentication for virtual machines on the filer and long distance synchronous replication for disaster recovery and stretched clusters up to 100 km apart.

"The storage market is coming up to meet them," Staimer said. "More and more people are buying more and more NAS systems these days, and the more separate systems you have, the more compelling their consolidation story."

However, Staimer said that until BlueArc adds some kind of data deduplication or data reduction to its secondary storage package, the product won't hold much appeal for non-BlueArc customers. "For now it's probably going to be something they attach to primary storage sales, but don't lead with," he said. "Until they have some kind of data deduplication, the product won't make many inroads outside their existing customer base."

Affeld said BlueArc is looking at adding deduplication. For now, the Titan can perform thin provisioning and achieve some power savings through Xyratex's reduced idling power for disk drives. The larger LUNs available in SiliconUpdate 5.0 will cut down on the number of hot spares users need to create RAID groups, further reducing the storage footprint of the box, Affeld pointed out.

The product enhancements come as BlueArc prepares to become a public company. The NAS vendor filed an S-1 registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an IPO in September.

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