DAFS Collaborative passes the torch to the SNIA

SNIA has taken the reigns from NetApps and Intel to form a DAFS forum that will promote the protocol specification.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has taken the reigns of the Direct Access File System protocol from the DAFS Collaborative by forming a new entity within the SNIA, the DAFS Implementers' Forum.

Network Appliance Inc., and Intel Corp. formed the DAFS Collaborative, with the goal of creating the DAFS protocol specification, encouraging industry participation, and submitting the specification to a standards body. More than 85 systems, storage and networking vendors signed up as contributors to the initiative.

The Collaborative also announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the DAFS protocol specification and submission of the DAFS specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards body.

"DAFS was designed to deliver a host of improvements in performance, flexibility and reliability for data center applications," said Steve Kleiman, chief technology officer of Network Appliance, and one of the original inventors of DAFS. "With V1.0 of the Spec complete, we now look forward to demonstrating the bottom line benefits of DAFS, as applications like databases, e-mail, and other I/O intensive systems begin taking advantage of it over the next year."

Dave Dale, co-chair of the DAFS Collaborative said the SNIA was the obvious choice for leading the transition from development to marketing and delivery of interoperable DAFS solutions to the marketplace.

"The Board of Directors of the Storage Networking Industry Association unanimously approved the formation of the DAFS Implementers' Forum within SNIA," said Larry Krantz, chairman of the SNIA Board of Directors.

According to the SNIA, the charter of the new DAFS Implementers' Forum will be to foster collaboration between vendors for the delivery of DAFS-based solutions; expand market awareness of DAFS as a storage networking technology; identify and promote the distribution of DAFS reference implementations; engage ISVs and customers on requirements for DAFS integration into data center applications; plan and demonstrate the interoperability of DAFS solutions on relevant transports; and determine the need and appropriate venue for further technical progress on DAFS-related APIs.

The co-chairs of the DAFS Implementers' Forum will be the current co-chairs of the DAFS Collaborative, David Dale from Network Appliance, and Jim Pappas from Intel.

DAFS is a network file system, similar to NFS and CIFS that has been optimized for high-bandwidth, low-latency networks like InfiniBand. According to Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst and IT advisor for Illuminata Inc., Nashua, N.H., DAFS does not specifically require InfiniBand since it can be run atop any interconnect that supports the Virtual Interface (VI) architecture. This means DAFS will work over Myrinet, Fibre Channel and Ethernet connections.

The DAFS protocol was designed to use standard memory-to-memory interconnect technologies such as VI and InfiniBand in clustered data center environments. DAFS lets applications access network interface hardware without operating system intervention, and carry out bulk data transfers directly to or from application buffers with minimal CPU overhead. The result, according to the DAFS Collaborative, is a significant increase in application server CPU cycles available for application processing, together with high-performance, low-latency shared file access between application servers and storage systems.

Storage networking expert and author Marc Farley said DAFS could solve some file system issues that will arise in evolving storage network architectures. "If you don't have a file system that works with virtualization you won't have [high] availability," said Farley. "DAFS is a step in the right direction."

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

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