Storage Station

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Newcomer Avere Builds Intelligence into Tiered Storage

Pittsburgh-based storage newcomer Avere Systems introduced a series of new-generation NAS [network-attached storage] devices that dynamically move data between standard hard drive and solid-state drive tiers, depending upon what the workload requires.

Obviously, this kind of system is one that can pay dividends over time in terms of capacity provisioning, efficient storage capacity management and electrical power savings.

Here's how the FXT Series of storage arrays works, according to CEO Ron Bianchini, who's also a professor of computer science at Carnegie-Mellon University.

FXT stores active client data on a cluster of high-performance appliances. It moves inactive data to a legacy NAS file server that is optimized for capacity and data retention. System performance scales linearly by adding additional appliances to the FXT cluster and capacity scales by adding disk storage to the NAS file server or mass storage system.

Reads, writes and metadata are allocated to storage media via Avere's own original approach to dynamic tiering. Allocation algorithms running on the FXT appliance monitor access frequency patterns and workload type and manage data placement on multiple internal tiers to increase performance, distribute workload in the cluster and minimize requests to the mass storage server. Movement of data occurs in real-time and occurs at the file or even block within the file level. All of this is done automatically by the system; there are no complex policies to configure or update.

The Avere FXT Series comes in two configurations at this time: The FXT 2300 features eight 146GB 15k SAS disks for an HDD capacity of 1.2TB, which can scale to 29.2TB per cluster. The FXT 2500 features eight 450GB drives for 3.6TB of capacity and up to 90TB of HDD per cluster.

Both appliances come in a 2U form factor and feature 64GB of DRAM and 1GB of NVRAM with a maximum of 1.6TB of DRAM per cluster. FXT clusters can scale to 25 appliances and support millions of operations/sec performance and tens of gigabytes/sec throughput. Each appliance provides redundant network ports and power and has either two 10GbE and two 1GbE network ports or ten 1GbE ports. List pricing starts at $52,500.

Avere already has a few customers using FXT in production, including the Salk Institute.

"Conceptually, an architecture like this could quite literally change everything we thought we knew about storage and I/O," said Steve Duplessie, founder and chief analyst of Enterprise Strategy Group. "If the Avere architecture can perform as intended, it might just turn decades of thinking on its head."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...