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Sistina Makes Inalienable Writes

Having multiple servers simultaneously writing to the same file has tended to be a lot like a room full of people talking about different things at the same time -- the end result is likely to be an incomprehensible mess.

Now clustered file system startup Sistina Software Inc. says it has found a way to turn the loud, babbling hum into separate, intelligible flows of information. The company claims that the new version of its global clustering file system allows up to 256 nodes to concurrently write to the same file without corrupting the data (see Sistina Enhances GFS).

The Minneapolis company, which has been developing its global clustering file system software for Linux for the past five years, announced the availability of its GFS (Global File System) version 5.2 this week, touting better locking capabilities and a new data journaling feature for enhanced performance.

Distributed file systems like Sistina's GFS allow organizations to consolidate server and storage resources into a single management domain, linking thousands of different data storage repositories into a single SAN, which can be based on either Fibre Channel or IP. Essentially, each server shares a single file store and can serve files to other systems on the network via Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS) protocols.

Like previous versions, GFS 5.2 is built to handle "locks," which is what prevents two machines from writing to the same area on a disk and thus corrupting the data. But in addition to that, the company says, the new software offers more flexible locking mechanisms that allow users to partition a single file into multiple secure parts. By enabling simultaneous writes to the same file, Sistina says it offers a tremendous scaleability and performance boost to enterprise applications like high-end distributed databases.

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