Three Appliances Raise the NAS Bar - Page 3


Rainfinitys RainStorage appliance greatly increases the manageability and availability of NAS systems. In eWEEK Labs tests, RainStorage migrated data from one NAS unit to another without disrupting user file access (see screen). The appliance also makes NAS resource management easy for managers, and, more important, it makes upgrades and migrations seamless for users.

RainStorage sits in front of NAS clusters in the network. When engaged, the appliance sits between the NAS systems and the users.

To take RainStorage in and out of band, we had to move VLANs (virtual LANs) around on our switch. While the process of setting up VLANs may require assistance from a network administrator, it is definitely worth the effort because leaving this appliance constantly in-band would make it a potential single point of failure.

RainStorages Web-based management tools have the ability to define custom scripts to automatically switch VLANs from in-band to out-of-band status.

When engaged, an IT manager can move data to evenly distribute workload or to move seldom-used data to a nearline storage device. In tests, it was fairly easy to start data migration, and after the process was completed, RainStorage automatically synchronized the two systems to complete transactions that took place during the migration.

RainStorage, which began shipping in January, redirects client access from the source to the new target. When user activity is down, an IT manager can switch the client mount points to hit the new NAS system and remove RainStorage from in-band mode.

The appliance has twin Intel Corp. Xeon processors, 4GB of memory, 4GB Ethernet cards and mirrored hard drives, all running on a hardened version of Linux 2.4.

RainStorages biggest negative is that it supports only NFS at this point. CIFS support is expected later this year, but until it arrives, this appliance is really worthwhile only if most of your servers and clients are Unix-based.

At $80,000 per appliance, RainStorage may seem a bit expensive. It is, but its notable that there is no licensing limit to the number of NAS systems that can be managed with an appliance. This makes the system a good buy for organizations with large NAS farms. A clustered pair of RainStorage appliances is available for $140,000.

RainStorage Executive Summary