Storage Suppliers Push Scaleability Envelope

Faster, bigger, and 'greener' systems take center stage for array vendors

September 26, 2007

3 Min Read
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Expansions of capacity and performance are featured in announcements from a handful of storage vendors this week, indicating growing interest in systems that scale, particularly for companies with rich media requirements.

ExaGrid, for instance, today announced Version 3.0 of its disk-based de-duping backup platform, claiming substantial backup and restore performance of previous versions. At the same time, ExaGrid's boasting that it copes with the side effects of scaling by fitting all this into a footprint that's 50 percent to 75 percent smaller than before.

The vendor's achieved this feat, claim officials, by adding 750-Gbyte Seagate SATA drives in place of 500-Gbyte ones. "We've also made software more efficient, so it can do the same job with half the hardware," says Marc Crespi, VP of product management.

Crespi says customers with 20 Tbytes of data can expect to see backups at rates to 2.1 Tbytes per hour (583 Mbytes per second) and restore times of 1.5 Tbytes per hour (417 Mbytes per second). Both figures "used to be a shade over that."

No customers were available to testify about the actuality of ExaGrid's performance claims, or the relative advantages of the new platform.ExaGrid, whose new systems start at $19,900, is also beating the drum about its fundamental design, in which storage scales separately from the software that controls it, enabling a "grid" approach. The pitch is similar to the one made by NEC earlier this week for its Hydrastor products -- albeit on a scale addressed to enterprise users. ExaGrid, in contrast, aims its products at companies with 300 to 10,000 employees, or 500 Gbytes to 40 Tbytes of storage under management.

Another firm touting scaleability via the separation of storage and control nodes is Parascale, though that startup is based on storage within commodity servers, instead of its own arrays.

"Independent scaling of storage and performance allows people to grow their storage as needed without buying more than they need," says analyst Heidi Biggar of the Enterprise Strategy Group. The need to scale in manageable increments is important not only to large customers but small ones, she notes.

"With ExaGrid, performance and capacity increase in balance, unlike other systems that are only one node," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group. "I think that's been one of the most interesting things about this company from the start."

In other scaleability news, ONStor announced today that it's doubled the capacity of its clustered NAS. The new Pantera 5000 supports up to 112 drives per RAID controller and can scale up to 672 Tbytes over eight nodes, the vendor says. In comparison, the Pantera 2200 scales to 36 Tbytes in a four-chassis configuration.Like ExaGrid, ONStor is aiming its wares at medium-sized enterprises, but it's also gunning for large ones. And like Parascale, ONStor cites the need to support users with massive digital imaging storage requirements.

Scaleability, however, appears to be an issue of growing importance to customers of any size. And products that enable that to happen in a flexible fashion seem to be on the rise.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.

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • ExaGrid Systems Inc.

  • ONStor Inc.

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)

  • Taneja Group

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