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Best of Interop 2012: Award Winners

What innovative technology product earned the coveted Best of Interop award for 2012? Get the lowdown on all of this year's winners and why they're compelling for enterprise IT.
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Judges: Howard Marks (, Scott Lowe (The 1610 Group)

A single Panzura Quicksilver appliance is a cloud storage gateway providing a cached file system that serves as a front end to public or private cloud storage systems, from Amplidata to Amazon's S3. That's handy, but things really get interesting when an IT organization uses multiple Quicksilver appliances to create a global distributed file system with cloud storage as its back end.

To accomplish this, data in one of the company's Global Cloud Storage System is encrypted and globally deduplicated at each appliance, reducing the security risks of using public cloud storage for sensitive data and minimizing the monthly cost. In fact, Quicksilver hits three of this year's hot storage trends: data de-duplication, solid state drive-based storage, and, of course, cloud capabilities.

Users and applications in locations worldwide can then access data through their local appliances via SMB and NFS storage protocols as if they were file servers. That gives users access to all the data stored on any of the organization's appliances through a single name space. The appliances, which can be virtual servers in small branch offices or physical appliances with up to 324TB of solid state and spinning disks, exchange metadata updates in real time so files are available across the global network immediately.

Once in place, Quicksilver is designed to provide a globally deduplicated store, to reduce backup requirements, as well as a single global file store for a company's files. This unified storage environment can then span many sites and automatically tier data from flash to cloud as needed. In addition, the metadata exchange methodology supports key features like global file locking, which offers NAS-like protection to ensure the integrity of shared data.

While Panzura's Quicksilver is our winner, the other finalists gave it a run for its money. Riverbed's Granite extends the reach of WAN acceleration to block-based and write-intensive applications by providing an iSCSI appliance for the remote office. Granite not only caches data, but unlike traditional WAN acceleration products (including Riverbed's own Steelhead), it keeps providing storage for remote users even if the WAN link is down. Newcomer Ceph, on the other hand, promises to be the storage "god box" that creates an almost infinitely scalable object storage back end, supporting updates in place through both file and block storage interfaces. But while Ceph shows tremendous promise, it is for now an open-source project that still needs validation in production environments. --Howard Marks


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