IBM's TotalStorage SAN File System was supposed to virtualize storage on arrays from any vendor, but when it was launched last fall, it only featured support for its own storage systems. With today's announcement of Version 2.1, however, it claims the SAN File System can virtualize and store files on EMC Corp.'s Symmetrix, Hitachi Ltd.'s Lightning, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s devices or any other array that supports the SCSI interface.
The SAN FS is designed to provide a single point of control for managing files and databases. SAN FS enables policy-based file provisioning, distributed file locking and file-based FlashCopy to help automate and speed information-sharing and management tasks.
Virtualization can change the way users manage storage by improving capacity utilization, speeding backup operations and improving database performance, and IBM isn't the only vendor to take notice. Apple Computer Inc. has introduced a SAN file system for its OS X operating platform, Silicon Graphics Inc. has its own virtual file system called CXFS and Linux juggernaut Red Hat Inc. acquired storage infrastructure software maker Sistina Software Inc., which offers a clustered file system for the Linux platform.
The true measure of a management tool is its real world performance, but Jeff Barnett, manager of IBM's storage strategy division, said there are only a few users running the SAN File System, and they need time to put the software through its paces before speaking with SearchStorage.com.
"There's [hesitance among users to adopt] any new product that represents a paradigm shift. It's understandable for some customers," Barnett said.
IBM has also delivered on its promise of unlimited scalability for the file system. The first release of the SAN FS was limited in terms of the number of volumes logical unit numbers (LUNs) that can be supported. It supported 126 single path LUNs or 63 multi-path LUNs. According to Jamie Gruener, senior analyst for Boston-based Yankee Group, said IBM has eliminated this limitation in the second release of the SAN File System. "With today's file systems, you need to manage the file system for each server individually. With the SAN FS, you will be able to manage the storage and data for all of the servers together," Gruener said.
The latest version of the SAN FS software also features improvements to the administrative user interface and new host operating system support for Red Hat Linux Enterprise Server 3.0 and Sun Solaris 9. The IBM TotalStorage SAN File System Version 2.1 will be available on June 29.
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