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Rackable to build cloud hardware to order

Rackable Systems added another prong to its storage line today, after revealing its intention to divest in the RapidScale clustered file system it bought with TeraScale in 2006 and partner with NetApp in recent months. Rackable’s latest approach is to build customized  high-density server/storage systems for clients in the cloud.

The new CloudRack system is available in either half-rack (22U) or full-rack (44U) configurations and is built using 1U “tray” servers designed by Rackable. The servers hold up to eight 3.5-inch SAS or SATA II hard drives for a maximum of 352 TB in a 44U system. The servers are “rack-focused,” which means they use one fan and power supply system attached to the rack rather than each containing their own power and cooling components. This also leaves room for disks to be horizontally mounted so they can be popped out for service. All the wiring is on the front of the box as well. “No screwdrivers needed,” Rackable director of server products Saeed Atashie said.

While there are minimum and maximum configurations, each system will be custom-built depending on their particular customer  requirements.   

Hardware-wise, this box ties in with IDC’s recommendations to storage vendors about building systems for the cloud as discussed in the Enterprise Disk Storage Consumption Model report I posted about here yesterday. However, unlike other systems that have been marketed for the cloud, CloudRack doesn’t offer its own logical abstraction between the hardware and software elements for centralized management or its own clustered file system.

That said, there’s no shortage of storage software vendors in the market today selling products that convert groups of industry standard servers into something else, whether a clustered NAS system, a parallel NAS system or a CAS archive. Rackable is willing to work with customers to give CloudRack the “personality” they desire, but officials were cagey when it came to saying what specific applications or vendors will be supported. The question is not whether or not the technology would work, though, according to Atashie, but a matter of who would service and support the account, which would also be worked out “on a case-by-case basis.”

The product will become generally available today. When I asked about pricing, guess what the answer was…

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