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BlueArc bumps up Titan's performance

BlueArc doubles the capacity and performance of its high-end NAS platform and plans to add features such as search and index, and data virtualization through an API program.

BlueArc Corp. today unveiled the Titan 3000 series, the latest in its line of beefy network attached storage (NAS) heads that will hold twice the capacity and offer double the performance of the previous Titan 2000 line. BlueArc also revealed plans to expand "beyond the platform" by working with software partners on applications for Titan.

The new Titan model 3200 offers up to 200,000 IOPS, up from 100,000 IOPS with the Titan 2000, and 20 GBps throughput, up from 10 Gbps with the Titan 2000 line. The new hardware will also support up to 64 virtual storage servers and up to eight cluster nodes for a maximum capacity of 4 PB, up from 2 PB with the 2000 series.

Like the 2000 series, the Titan 3000 will support SATA disk for archival storage, and iSCSI, NFS and CIFS interfaces. The product's hardware is comprised of modular blades for connectivity and storage -- the Titan head can be deployed as a gateway with a choice of LSI Corp., Xyratex Technology Ltd., HDS or Texas Memory Systems Inc. storage. The 3000 series also includes a 3100 model that takes over where the Titan 2000 series left off at 100,000 IOPS and 10 Gbps. Under its OEM deal with BlueArc, HDS will sell the new Titan as its high-performance NAS 3000 platform.

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Titan customers driven by performance

The upgrade addresses speeds and feeds without new functionality, but performance is a major driver for Titan customers, and they welcome the boost.

"Some might say, 'Why bother to double the performance [of the Titan]?' It's because of customers like me," said Tom Burns, director of post-production infrastructure for Technicolor. As the film industry moves toward high-definition video and more frames per movie, storage demands don't stop growing, he said. "And a NAS system is easier to administer than a SAN or SAN file system," he added

New features are coming by way of a new API that will let BlueArc partners and other developers write applications for Titan. Analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group said the API is crucial to help BlueArc "get unstuck from the HPC [high-performance computing] arena" where it began. Partners, including HDS, Storewize Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Index Engines Inc., have signed on to write applications in four main areas: search and index, information lifecycle management, data virtualization and data retention and reduction.

Some features to be offered by the new applications include integrated data migration based on search query results, symbolic links between virtual storage file systems and virtual storage pools with thin provisioning for virtual machines and primary storage data reduction through compression.

BlueArc needs to better leverage VMware

"It shows fine execution from BlueArc that they're broadening the applicability of their hardware," Taneja said. But there's one software partner Taneja said he'd like to see BlueArc tap more fully: VMware Inc.

BlueArc is currently certified with VMware, and BlueArc CEO Mike Gustafson said the companies will work together on product integration, but declined to give more details. Taneja said BlueArc's hardware-based file services could help solve poor storage utilization and alleviate storage bottlenecks, which VMware customers frequently report.

"When you combine multiple applications on virtual servers in one physical machine, their combined I/O makes the I/O pattern from the physical machine randomized," Taneja said. "If storage boxes don't have very high IOPS, they can become a serious bottleneck." This puts BlueArc's box with its big IOPS numbers in good position to address a common issue with server virtualization, he said.

"There's a serious amount of work to be done there, and it takes time," he said. "But this should absolutely be a big initiative for them."

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