Panasas High-Performance Storage File System Goes Mainstream

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-08-21 Print this article Print

Panasas ActiveStor, with its extremely fast parallel file system, is usually found in scientific data centers like that at Los Alamos National Laboratory. But now the system has been tailored for general enterprise use, with an aggregate bandwidth of twice that of the prior generation. It also uses less power and cooling than older systems.

Parallel file system storage specialist Panasas, founded by Dr. Garth Gibson of Carnegie Mellon University, the man who co-created RAID back in the '90s, has tailored its ActiveStor product line for enterprise use.

ActiveStor, with its extremely fast file system and processing power, is usually found in scientific data centers like that at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The new enterprise version was announced Aug. 21.

The Parallel Network File System, or pNFS, is a complex proprietary technology that solves storage I/O bottlenecks-which are the bane of IT managers' existence-and accelerate customer deployments of parallel storage solutions. It enables direct parallel data transfer-as opposed to standard, narrower, one-lane file systems-between clients and storage devices.

pNFS is a critical component of NFS version 4.1, the first major performance upgrade to the widely deployed NFS in more than a decade. It is currently undergoing standards scrutiny. Typically, pNFS is used in system stacks with Linux, Apache (for Web servers) and other open-source software.

ActiveStor's new second-tier parallel storage package increases the aggregate bandwidth that can be supported on each Panasas storage shelf to about double that of the prior generation. Panasas claims that such a system thus can deploy up to 50 percent less storage, use up to 50 percent less power, require up to 50 percent less cooling and utilize up to 50 percent less floor space, due to the efficiencies of the enterprise ActiveStor.

The ActiveStor product line includes the ActiveStor 6000 (AS6000) and ActiveStor 4000 (AS4000) parallel storage clusters and the new ActiveStor 200 (AS200), the industry's first parallel second-tier storage solution. All feature the new third-generation Panasas ActiveScale 3.2 operating environment.

All three storage clusters offer huge scalability because storage shelves can be combined into a single, global shared file system supporting well over 10PB of raw capacity.

"Parallel storage and scale-out computing provide the ultra-high performance that some commercial computing applications now require," said Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.

"The new Panasas offerings, a leader in delivering high-performance parallel storage systems that help solve the most complex engineering and scientific computing challenges, deliver the same level of performance to the enterprise business segment and should be of interest to anyone needing the highest level of storage performance."

Panasas will host a Webinar on the new ActiveStor product line Sept. 17 at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Registration is available here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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