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Panasas adds Windows support to HPC file system

Sonia Lelii

High-performance computing network-attached storage specialist Panasas is getting into the Windows market.

Panasas today said its PanFS 5.5 operating system (OS)

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will support enterprise-grade Microsoft Windows for the first time. PanFS, which runs on Panasas ActiveStor scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) appliances, already supports Linux, Oracle Solaris and IBM AIX OSes. The new version provides file services for Microsoft Windows clients and integrates with the Windows Server domain.

High-performance computing (HPC) file system environments typically use Linux, but Panasas' Windows support with an enterprise-grade CIFS protocol gives its storage better interoperability with Windows in a mixed-OS configuration.

"The biggest step is [that] Panasas has become a Microsoft licensee, with access to the source code and technical documents," said Geoffrey Noer, Panasas' senior director of product marketing. "Most IT environments have different compute servers with different OSes. The 5.5 version is for mixed-workload environments. It's typical that high-performance applications work on Linux, but the researchers have laptops and workstations that often run on Windows."

Panasas has replaced open source Samba with the commercially licensed, Microsoft-compliant CIFS/SMB protocol to improve Windows interoperability. Users can access data sets from Windows, Linux and Unix systems.

"When Windows clients talk to storage, they need to communicate with the Windows protocol," Noer said. "Now, with a commercial implementation, we can be up-to-date with Microsoft. Samba was close, but not 100% there."

Steve Conway, research vice president in Framingham, Mass.-based IDC's HPC group, said adding Windows support doesn't fundamentally change Panasas' focus, but it does expand its reach.

"Most HPC is Linux," Conway said. "Microsoft is a relatively small piece of it. But there are some segments like finance and life sciences that use Microsoft software. Panasas is not moving out of what they do. They are just adding to it. If you can access 10% more of the market, that's important."

Panasas ActiveStor is a modular, blade architecture. Panasas' last hardware launch was ActiveStor 14, a hybrid flash scale-out system used to maximize workload performance with larger files that depend on analytics that may take weeks to process.

PanFS 5.5 will be generally available on March 31.


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