Storage Systems Gaining Built-In Grid Options

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2004-11-15

Enterprises eager to squeeze more mileage out of per-gigabit storage investments can soon start taking advantage of virtual volume management and cloning capabilities being built into storage grid architectures.

Companies such as Network Appliance Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and ExaGrid Systems are readying updates to their storage wares that offer customers advanced grid-based management capabilities and improved performance.

NetApp will introduce this week a beefed-up version of its Data OnTap 7G software that includes the companys new FlexVol and FlexClone features. Respectively, FlexVol and FlexClone enable administrators to shrink and grow storage volumes on demand by disassociating virtual storage pool entities from the physical infrastructure; they also have the ability to make volume copies without consuming any further storage capacity.

In addition, NetApp, of Santa Clara, Calif., will announce that its gFiler data management interface will support HPs StorageWorks XP Disk Array family as well as IBMs TotalStorage DS4000 series, said officials.

FlexVol is vital to NetApps attempt to construct a storage utility infrastructure via its ability to carve as much as 16TB of pooled virtualized storage into logical data containers as small as 4MB that stand apart from disks, industry analysts said.

HP is building an array controller product based on the companys storage grid architecture, according to Simon Towers, director in the office of the chief technology officer at the Palo Alto, Calif., company. Targeted for release in 2006, the product will provide storage management for services and applications to be loaded onto a federated storage platform layer that dedicates dynamically provisioned HP "smart cells" to a particular data path.

Enabling a storage grid to act as a storage self-protection tool, ExaGrid Systems this week will announce Advanstor.

The policy-driven NAS (network-attached storage) offering integrates the management of Microsoft Corp. Windows-based file servers with local/remote backup and restore, as well as disaster recovery capabilities, said ExaGrid officials in Westboro, Mass.

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