Storage Technology Corp.s application storage manager, or ASM, mixes tape and disk virtualization into a powerful, efficient storage system. From a technology perspective, ASM functions in a manner similar to HSM (hierarchical storage management) systems. ASMs virtualization software gives clients a virtual network drive they can store data on, but it hides the fact that part of its storage capacity is held on inexpensive tape media.
Although this hardware/software combo has more in common with tape and optical library systems than with storage virtualization storage area network packages such as FalconStor Inc.s IPStor (see review, Page 45), it is an interesting system that will work well in many organizations.
Although ASM isnt designed for transaction-intensive environments, it could be a better choice than IPStor or other virtualization products in heavy-duty archiving environments such as libraries, accounting companies and law firms, where large amounts of data must be stored, but most of the data neednt be frequently accessed.
The ASM prototype unit we tested in eWeek Labs consisted of a StorageTek Fibre Channel RAID unit with redundant storage processors, a Fibre Channel tape library unit and a Solaris-based server running the ASM management software.
The ASM server unit shares out network drives over Novell Inc. NetWare File Services to Unix-based clients. In tests, we were able to use Linux and Solaris clients to map drives to the server.
Data is initially written to the Fibre Channel RAID by the ASM server unit, but as data gets older, the ASM server transparently moves data from the expensive Fibre Channel RAID unit to the Tape Library unit.
By using a combination of expensive disks and less expensive tape-based technology, StorageTek brings down storage costs considerably. ASM units will be priced in the range of 2 cents to 9 cents per megabyte, depending on performance and capacity requirements (with higher prices for systems with more hard disks).
The unit we tested included only NFS (Network File System) support, but by launch time, ASM units with both Common Internet File System and NFS capabilities should be available, StorageTek officials said.
ASM will be formally announced at the StorageTek Storage Summit & Forum in October and will be ready for general availability in early November. Final prices have not been announced.