Storage UPDATE--Wide-Area File Services--July 12, 2004

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1. Commentary

- Wide-Area File Services for Windows

2. News and Views

- Adaptec Acquires IBM RAID Technology

- Overland Releases Tape AutoLoader Alternative

3. Resource

- Best Practices for Using Dynamic Disks on Windows 2000-Based Computers

4. New and Improved

- 512-Port Intelligent Switch

- Lifecycle Management and Backup Appliances

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary ====

by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Wide-Area File Services for Windows

Despite continual improvement in storage technologies, dealing with storage and remote sites remains a thorn in the side of many administrators. Concerns about cost, security, excessive exposure of proprietary business data, and overall maintenance (backup and management) of offsite data are problems that have yet to find broadly accepted solutions.

In high-latency situations, most applications--and particularly Windows-based applications--deal poorly with storage. Typically, applications expect a latency that's no worse than the latency that's characteristic of a LAN. When faced with the long latencies often encountered in WAN environments, many applications appear to hang or simply time out while doing large data transfers. The nature of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) means that even something as simple as saving a file, although it looks like a single action to the user, actually requires a conversation between the application and the storage location. Files must be divided into packets for transmission, and the application and the storage system need to exchange messages to acknowledge and verify that packets are being transmitted and the file is being saved.

This ongoing traffic is what makes Windows applications perform poorly over WAN connections. Consequently, most Windows shops make sure that local copies of business data are available to remote or branch offices so that user traffic doesn't have to go out over the WAN. Those organizations then just back up or update the remote server that houses the copy of the corporate data. However, this approach makes it difficult to propagate changes to the data in real time, and remote users are always a little behind the curve either in acquiring the latest corporate data or in updating the main-office database. Maintaining multiple copies of data is the antithesis of the portal approach that Microsoft advocates with Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and their integration with Microsoft Office, yet Office is among the applications whose performance deteriorates the most when they're forced to deal with excessive storage latency.

The goal of wide-area file services is to give remote offices LAN-speed access to corporate data without requiring copies of data or the additional management that they necessitate. Often based on some form of DFS, wide-area file services are in the early stages of development and adoption, with few proven viable solutions in the market--and until recently, no product for use with Windows Server.

But earlier this month, Tacit Networks (see URL below) announced that its cutting-edge wide-area file services solution would support Windows Storage Server 2003. Tacit's iShared appliance lets storage managers deploy one device at each remote location to give the users at that site data-access performance similar to the performance that main-office LAN users enjoy.

In addition to being simpler than installing dedicated servers at each remote location, the appliance approach gives corporations a solution that can be centrally managed, provides everything from flow control to file compression, improves the experience of remote users, and increases the efficiency of existing WAN links. In scenarios in which data needs to be refreshed regularly at each office, the appliances can be prepopulated (i.e., necessary data can be pushed to the appliance before remote users request it), further cutting down on WAN traffic. And all data is managed as if it resides only on the home office network--users don't need to be aware of what the appliance is doing.

Tacit built its technology in the Linux environment, and the iShared appliance is the first product to transparently support wide-area file services for both Linux and Windows Storage Server 2003 users. If you're responsible for dealing with remote or branch offices, you need to understand wide-area file services, because you'll most likely come to use them. Taking a look at the technologies that Tacit's iShared product uses is a good place to start.

==== 2. News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

Adaptec Acquires IBM RAID Technology

Adaptec has licensed and acquired certain RAID data-protection technology from IBM and plans to use the technology to expand and improve its RAID-related product offerings. The deal includes RAID data-protection intellectual property, RAID products, and related expertise. Adaptec will become the sole supplier for the next 3 years of RAID controllers for IBM's eServer iSeries and pSeries servers. (Adaptec currently provides data protection technology for IBM xSeries servers.) According to Adaptec, the new agreement with IBM should lead to $150 million in new revenue over the term of the agreement. "Our strategic relationship with IBM has been a successful one, and we are pleased to expand our collaboration even further to deliver next-generation RAID data-protection solutions for xSeries, iSeries, and pSeries customers with diverse business needs," said Robert N. Stephens, Adaptec president and CEO.

Technologies covered by the agreement include IBM's ServeRAID technology, which Adaptec has licensed for use in its PCI RAID and external products. Adaptec will also acquire an IBM RAID engineering team that currently builds the components for the iSeries and pSeries servers. Financial terms of the agreement weren't released.

Overland Releases Tape AutoLoader Alternative

Overland Storage has released what it calls the industry's first disk-based alternative to entry-level tape autoloaders. The REO 1000 joins the company's growing REO family of disk-based backup and recovery systems. The REO 1000 provides fast backups and high-speed file restores and helps provide more cost-effective data protection than entry-level tape loaders, according to the company. Overland is targeting the REO 1000 at small to midsized businesses. "..\[T\]he REO 1000 provides manageability, flexibility, and reliability features not found in entry-level tape autoloaders, including virtualized storage elements, the ability to appear to backup servers and applications as either disk or tape, and RAID data protection," said Robert Scroop, vice president and general manager of the Storage Resource business Unit.

The REO 1000 is available now and starts at $4949. The system ships in a 1U (2.75") rack form-factor and features 1TB native capacity (2TB compressed), Linear Tape Open 2 (LTO-2) tape drive emulation, Internet SCSI (iSCSI) connectivity, RAID data protection, and support for most OSs and third-party applications.

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==== 3. Resource ====

Best Practices for Using Dynamic Disks on Windows 2000-Based Computers

Dynamic disks offer features that aren't available on basic disks and are more robust and fault tolerant. To learn the limitations of dynamic disks and the best practices for using them, review the Microsoft article "Best Practices for Using Dynamic Disks on Windows 2000-Based Computers" at the URL below. You'll learn how to use dynamic disks when you have both locally attached storage and a Storage Area Network (SAN), how to move dynamic disks, how and why to disable the Write Signature and Upgrade Disk Wizard, and more.

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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

512-Port Intelligent Switch

MaXXan Systems unveiled the MXV500, an intelligent Storage Area Network (SAN) switch scalable to 256 ports in one chassis and up to 512 ports in a dual-chassis configuration that you can manage as a single fabric. Like MaXXan's previous generation of intelligent storage networking products, the MXV500 eliminates the need to deploy storage applications on host servers, independent appliances, or array controllers. Its design centralizes the deployment and management of applications such as virtualization, data replication, snapshot, mirroring, Network Attached Storage (NAS), and virtual tape to a heterogeneous IT environment. For more information, call 866-462-9926 or visit MaXXan's Web site.

Lifecycle Management and Backup Appliances

STORServer combined repository and data-retention capabilities to deliver the STORServer Lifecycle Management (LM) Appliance. The STORServer LM Appliance accommodates the increasing demands on companies for storing large amounts of data (particularly compliance-related data) and implementing data-management policies.

STORServer is also shipping STORServerV2, a backup appliance built on Windows Storage Server 2003. STORServerV2 combines the hardware, software, integration, deployment, support, and day-to-day management features of the original STORServer Backup Appliance with a new, Web-based management interface.

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