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Panasas ActiveStor 11 aims clustered NAS at private storage clouds

Panasas launches ActiveStor 11, a clustered NAS system with multi-tenancy and chargeback features for private storage clouds.

Panasas Inc. today launched Panasas ActiveStor 11, a midrange clustered network-attached storage (NAS) appliance for organizations looking to run high-performance computing (HPC) applications on a private storage cloud.

ActiveStor 11 is a lower-cost alternative to the top-of-the-line Panasas ActiveStor 12 system. Panasas is aiming the new system at customers who want high capacity and are willing to trade performance for a better price point.

Panasas uses a bladed architecture for its NAS arrays. Each chassis has one director blade and 10 storage blades. The director blade includes cache, CPU and networking components, and it orchestrates system activity and provides clustered metadata services. Storage blades have cache, CPU and hard drives, and also enable parallel reads and writes.

An ActiveStor 11 4U chassis can hold 60 TB with 20 3 TB SATA drives for a list price of $90,000. It scales to 6 PB with 100 chassis in a single file system. Each chassis has a maximum cache of 48 GB with a read throughput of 1,150 MBps and a write throughput of 950 MBps.

Panasas ActiveStor 11 and ActiveStor 12 both use Intel Westmere chips and the PanFS operating system that allows parallel access protocol. Panasas also uses object RAID software for data protection instead of a hardware RAID controller.

Multi-tenancy and chargeback for the cloud

ActiveStor 11 will eventually replace the lower-end ActiveStor 8. Barbara Murphy, Panasas' chief marketing officer, said ActiveStor 11 is a fit for private clouds because it has multi-tenancy and supports chargeback and user quotas.

“Administrators can easily allocate resources and resource usage reporting, so when users run out of space they have knowledge of that,” Murphy said. “Also, the departmental chargeback is very important because when you have shared usage the department only wants to pay for what they're allocated.”

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said Panasas systems are considered easier to implement than HPC storage systems built on IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS) and open source Lustre.

“What we're hearing end users say is Lustre and GPFS can be very complex to set up and manage,” McClure said. “Panasas is interesting in this space because it’s easy to get advance functionality, and it’s hard to get this level of complexity easy to use.”

McClure said ActiveStor 11 and ActiveStor 12 work on a common namespace so two logical systems can offer two different service levels. “Not everyone needs the high performance,” she said. “Sometimes you have to trade performance for a price break.”

ActiveStor 11 is scheduled to start shipping in August.

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