Storage Startup Exanet Pitches Replication for NAS Clusters

The upcoming ExaStore CDP software will expand the vendor's data protection solution with an emphasis on replication and recovery.

High-performance networked storage vendor Exanet will expand its clustered NAS software solution with new data replication and recovery capabilities.

The company said it expects the update, to be officially announced on July 10, to boost its standing in wider enterprise markets that require a greater degree of data protection.

Due in the third quarter of 2006 from the companys channel partners, ExaStore CDP (continuous data protection) will be aimed at applications such as manufacturing, product life-cycle design, mining research and health care, executives said.

According to Rami Schwartz, CEO of Exanet, based in Herzliya, Israel, some of Exanets customers store more than 140TB of data, comprising more than 100 million files. These applications require an efficient replication engine, he explained.

"There are near CDP-type applications, but [ExaStore CDP] is real CDP," Schwartz said. "We dont copy files, instead we mark what block within the files has changed and keep a pointer to this changed block. If nothing has changed, we dont take the snapshot. You cant work in a real enterprise environment unless youre extremely efficient."

Schwartz said ExaStore is agnostic about hardware, supporting Intel-based servers and a wide range of storage products. Its clustered NAS (network-attached storage) uses its own proprietary distributed file system and provides multiprotocol support, protocol security, client and data load balancing, and now remote replication.

The companys NAS clustering technology provides both performance and scalability combined with ease of configuration, Schwartz said. ExaStore can "scale on the fly in both dimensions independently," he said.

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"So you can add disks, and the system will automatically identify the added capacity, then grow a single file system for you and start to evenly distribute the data for you later on. Everything is done automatically, you dont need rocket science. … If you want to increase performance, you add more nodes, and the system will adopt the nodes, will establish the connection between the new nodes to the existing data [and] will start to load balance," Schwartz told eWEEK.

Exanet offers a flexible solution for the channel, according to analyst Greg Schultz of StorageIO Group, based in Stillwater, Minn.

"Exanet touts itself as more of a solution play. [ExaStore] is open [and] heterogeneous, it can be deployed with different hardware and without host-based drivers, host-based software and special host-based files system. It is infrastructure plug-and-play-friendly," he said.

However, right or wrong, Exanet has been labeled a niche product for high-end, high-performance computing applications, Schultz said. He agreed with the companys expectation of new opportunities for the clustered NAS system.

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"By leveraging the snapshot capability, the performance and scalability, Exanet is coming into the enterprise market that is growing up and demanding more scalable and more high-performance solutions than traditional filers. One could argue that ExaStore could be considered a NAS gateway," Schultz said.

Exanet in June announced that it had expanded its North American operation, bringing its number of offices to six. Earlier in 2006, it signed reseller agreements with five VARs in the professional video production and enterprise storage markets.

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