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04:37 PM

Storage Switches Simplify Filing

Startup introduces devices that let customers use a single file system to make it easier to manage across diverse appliances

Storage networks are supposed to simplify the movement, storage, and management of information. Business-technology managers, for example, are able to get network-attached storage appliances up and running in a snap, and they're easier to administer than direct-attached storage systems.

But simplicity vanishes when businesses use NAS appliances from multiple vendors. Customers can't easily share files among devices from different storage vendors, including Dell, EMC, and Network Appliance.

A startup hopes to change that. Acopia Networks Inc. last week unveiled the ARX6000 and ARX1000 network-attached switches. They will interoperate with any IP-compliant appliances and give customers a global view of the files on all of them. Because Acopia's switches operate on an IP network, it's easier to place the switches and storage resources in the best locations to support critical apps and computer systems.

Network-attached storage is the way to go, says Mike Streb, VP of technical services at Warner Music Group Corp.

Network-attached storage is the way to go, Warner's Streb says.
Mike Streb, VP of technical services at Warner Music Group Corp., says Acopia's switches will help him better manage the growing amounts of data his company must store and manage. One Warner business unit saw its storage needs grow from 15 terabytes to 35 terabytes, he says, and that was before the boom in selling music online. "I'm running out of space because of file structure," he says.

Streb had been using a Sun Microsystems Solaris server and an EMC Corp. CX Fibre Channel storage area network to store and manage the music files, but he needed better file management. He planned to use EMC Celera appliances to provide the file management but concluded that a Celera network with 16 appliances would result in a fragmented file system that would be hard to manage. "Acopia lets us put a global name on them all and make them appear as one," Streb says.

Acopia may be the first vendor to solve the complexity that results from running many NAS appliances, says Marc Staimer, an analyst at Dragon Slayer Consulting. "Typically, the first three [NAS appliances] were wonderful, but those last 12 were a nightmare," he says. Every appliance added to a network disrupts service.

The ARX6000 high-end switch provides access to as many as 500 million files and is priced at $150,000. The fixed-configuration ARX1000 provides access to as many as 100 million files and is priced at $45,000.

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