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Panasas Leads Charge to Parallel NFS

Panasas is so obsessed with an emerging standard for managing NFS file access that it will launch free client source-code this summer. (See Panasas Accelerates pNFS Adoption.)

The question is, Who'll glom on?

The standard is Parallel NFS (pNFS), an extension of the next release of NFS (Network File System), which is working its way through the IETF approval process. As an adjunct to the upcoming NFS 4.1, pNFS describes a way for the NFS protocol to process file requests to multiple servers or storage devices at once, instead of handling the requests serially.

"You could say NFS was invented by Bill Joy at Sun back in 1983, and the thing hasn't had a major performance upgrade in two decades," says Panasas VP of marketing Larry Jones. The I/O processing involved in retrieving stored NFS files is still mostly serial, he notes. It's time to bust the bottleneck by making it parallel.

Clustered file systems are growing in popularity, but not all of them have parallel I/O for NFS (though some claim performance improvements via their own file systems). Panasas's claimed differentiator has been a clustered storage client called DirectFlow that deploys parallel I/O for NFS.

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