Symantec launches file platform for cloud storage

Symantec looks to push deeper into cloud storage with FileStore for file storage and an upcoming object file system due to ship next year.

Symantec Corp. today rolled out a new clustered storage file system and previewed an object file system to follow as part of its cloud storage strategy.

Symantec FileStore extends the capabilities of the Veritas Cluster File System. A FileStore system scales to 16 nodes and 2 PB of total storage and can handle files up to 256 TB and up to 200 million files per file system, according to Symantec VP of clustered storage Jeff Reed. While Cluster File System only supports NFS, FileStore also supports CIFS, HTTP, FTP and file-based replication. FileStore is designed to let organizations add new storage or replace nodes while staying online.

Symantec uses FileStore for file-based storage in its Symantec Online Backup Service, which serves up 40 PB of data storage for over 9 million users, according to Reed. Reed said Online Backup Service runs the software on industry-standard hardware and integrates with other Symantec products such as Veritas NetBackup, Symantec Dynamic Storage Tiering and Endpoint Protection. Symantec's online services also use Veritas Storage Foundation for Windows and Veritas Cluster Server to manage backup storage.

Reed said FileStore is aimed at organizations looking to build internal clouds and providers offering cloud storage services to customers.

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"We want to enable other companies looking to offer cloud infrastructures, which could be for their internal use or companies looking to build resilient cloud infrastructures as services," he said.

FileStore pricing starts at $6,995 for two nodes and two CPU sockets. Symantec sells it without hardware but Reed said partners such as Fujitsu, Huawei and Xiotech Inc. will bundle it with their hardware.

The object file system, code-named S4, is expected to be available in 2010. Reed said S4 will scale higher than FileStore, is designed for commodity hardware and has a multi-tenant architecture. S4 will compete with object-based storage such as software from Bycast Inc. and Caringo Inc., as well as EMC Atmos and Hitachi Data Systems HCAP. Symantec will market S4 and FileStore separately. "They're two different products," Reed said.

IDC research manager Noemi Greyzdorf said while FileStore has cloud capabilities, she sees it more as a network-attached storage (NAS) cluster that can compete with NetApp and other enterprise NAS products while S4 will drive large-scale cloud implementations.

"FileStore integrates with other [Symantec] technologies that can be deployed on off-the-shelf hardware," she said. "You deploy them on a server with storage attached and it becomes a NAS, addressing more traditional file service needs and use cases."

She said object storage "is infinitely more scalable and makes a lot of sense for really large file repositories. It tends to be highly scalable in terms of capacity, and gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of data placement and retrieval. And it's inherently more secure. Once you create an object, you can't modify it; you can only create a new object and delete the old one."

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Bob Laliberte said Symantec's strategy is to make the cloud a software play. "For so long everyone has looked at arrays and realized the value is in the software," he said. "Symantec has extracted the software. They said, 'We've been managing software for years. We'll let you go get a whitebox and manage your own storage.'"

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