BlueArc Steps Into Secondary Storage

NAS vendor unveils new hardware and software solutions

November 7, 2007

3 Min Read
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NAS specialist BlueArc is expanding its focus from primary to secondary storage, unveiling a high-density nearline solution and a number of software upgrades.

Earlier today the vendor took the wraps off the SA-48, a RAID 6 array OEM'd from Xyratex. The four-rack-unit-high enclosure can support up to 48 drives, four times the density of the vendor's previous NAS enclosures, and it is aimed squarely at secondary storage applications.

"There has been an explosion of unstructured data, from powerpoints to social networking and content sharing," says Jon Affeld, BlueArc's senior director of product marketing, explaining that the vendor was keen to get into the secondary storage market.

Deployed as a cluster with BlueArc's Titan NAS heads, the SA-48 offers a maximum capacity of 2 Pbytes, compared to the previous limit of 512 Tbytes, he adds.

The high-density array represents a step into new territory for BlueArc, according to Marc Staimer, president of analyst firm Dragon Slayer consulting. "It's meant for secondary storage -- it's for snapshots and backups, things that you're not hitting on a day-to-day basis," he says, explaining that this is a departure from BlueArc's traditional focus on primary storage.BlueArc's NAS rival, NetApp, already offers secondary storage in the shape of its NearStore product, as do HP and IBM, leaving BlueArc lagging behind in the tiered storage stakes.

With users increasingly looking to shift older, less mission-critical data onto cheaper, lower-performance media, BlueArc had little choice but to rethink its strategy, according to Staimer.

"It's hard to have tiered storage when you have only got one tier," says the analyst, explaining that users would much rather deal with one vendor for both their primary and secondary storage needs. "Not having secondary storage has previously knocked BlueArc out of the game."

BlueArc also unveiled a set of enhancements for its Silicon Update management software today, including a feature called Secure Virtual Servers, which is aimed at firms that need to lock down virtual data.

"Now you can have security policies for each virtual server, as well as establish them for different network domains," says Affeld, explaining that this could be useful for an ISP looking to secure various customers' data across different hardware.Silicon Update 5.0 also doubles the clustering and virtual server capacity for BlueArc's systems, enabling users to build 8-node clusters and run 64 virtual servers in a single machine.

Despite this barrage of announcements, BlueArc will need to think about adding yet more features to its nearline solution if it wants to be taken seriously as a secondary storage player, according to Staimer.

"They will have to come out with compression and de-duplication by the middle of next year," he warns. "In the secondary storage market those things are quickly becoming table stakes."

Silicon Update 5.0 is available now, and the SA-48 will be on the market next month, although BlueArc has not yet revealed pricing.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Xyratex Ltd.

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