Storage Suppliers Stage Linux Love-In

The worlds of open source and storage converged in Frisco this week

August 9, 2007

5 Min Read
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Storage vendors were out in force at the LinuxWorld event in San Francisco this week, jumping on the open source bandwagon and touting a slew of virtualization and 10-Gbit/s Ethernet products.

More and more users are turning to Linux-based systems in an attempt to shave their storage costs, with the technology now at the core of data centers for the likes of Google, Lawrence Livermore Labs, NASA, and Pixar. (See Google, Livermore Taps Clustering, NASA, and Pixar.) This, in turn, has prompted a flurry of activity from storage vendors making their offerings Linux-compatible. (See Virtual HBAs Hitch Servers & Storage, Emulex HBA Joins Linux Kernel, EMC, Oracle Team Up, HP Vows More Virtualization, and IBM Buys DataMirror for $162M.)

While users for some time now have been touting the cost benefits of open source Linux versus proprietary products from the likes of Microsoft, technologies like virtualization, file management, and clustering are helping push the worlds of Linux and storage closer together.

"With virtual machines in Windows you have to pay per instance, but with Linux you dont have to do that," says 451 Group analyst Henry Baltazar.

A sampling of this week's storage-related LinuxWorld announcements highlights the increasingly cozy pairing:Connectivity

Coraid fleshed out its EtherDrive family of appliances, which use a Linux-compatible technology called ATA over Ethernet (AOE) to enable servers to view a RAID array as a local drive. This allows use of Ethernet NICs for the transfer of block-level storage data to the arrays. On the downside, it's not routable. (See Coraid Intros AOE Appliance, Digibug, and Coraid Scores NASA Deal.)

Coraid's EtherDrive VS21 uses the AOE protocol to share data held on other EtherDrive appliances. Priced at $2,995 the 2-rack-unit high device is available now.

Coraid also used the LinuxWorld event to join the growing list of vendors throwing their weight behind 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, unveiling its 16-Tbyte SR1661, and 24-Tbyte SR2461. Both devices, which use SATA disks, come with a 10-Gbit/s Ethernet interface. (See 10-Gig Timeframe.)

The 3-rack-unit-high SR1661 is available now, priced at $8,995. The 4-rack-unit-high SR2461, which costs $10,995, will be available in late September.

QLogic demonstrated its recently announced HBA virtualization technology, which uses a protocol called called N Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) for HBAs. This protocol, developed by QLogic archrival Emulex and IBM, essentially fences off one virtual machine's storage from another. QLogic's HBA protocol is being demonstrated with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server product. (See QLogic Shows Off.)Another vendor making virtual announcements this week was HP, which added support for the Xen hypervisor and the Debian open source operating system to its Partner Virtualization program. This program is a joint initiative with VMware for testing and developing virtual machines. (See HP Vows More Virtualization, HP's Software Spree, XenSource Reveals Upgrade, and Symantec Drifts Into Xen.)

Linux clustering specialist Rackable Systems took the wraps off the latest version of its RapidScale file system appliance, upgrading its core software to support multiple protocols. (See Rackable Goes 'Eco-Logical' and Rackable Intros RapidScale.) Gautham Sastri, executive vice president of Rackable's RapidScale division, told Byte and Switch that version 2.2 of the RapidScale software can support InfiniBand along with 1- and 10-Gbit/s Ethernet concurrently. (See Users Bang InfiniBand Drum, InfiniBand Boasts Growth, 10-Gig Trends Up, and Will Blades Cut Path for 10-Gig?)

The previous version of the software could only support one of these protocols at any given time, according to Sastri. "Now you can access your storage concurrently from different nodes and failover from different nodes."

The vendor also unveiled its SE3016 device, a 12-Tbyte external storage array that it touts as a way for users to solve power problems. (See Keeping IT 'Green' This Summer and Green Grid Announces Roadmap.)

The SE3016 is essentially a stripped-down version of Rackable's existing storage systems. "Because we don't have a server motherboard or RAM memory or any power-hungry RAID controllers, we’re able to make this very powerful from an efficiency perspective," says Geoff Noer, Rackable's senior director of product management, adding that the SE3016 draws just 305 watts, compared to around 450 watts on a 9-Tbyte RapidScale device.Priced at $11,950 for 12-Tbytes, the SE3016 is available now, as is version 2.2 of the RapidScale software. Rapidscale appliances running the software cost around $3,000 per Tbyte.

High-Performance Computing

Increasingly, users in the high performance computing (HPC) space, which now include big-name corporations such as the Ford Motor Company, are using Linux as the cornerstone of their storage efforts. (See Ford Picks SGI for HPC, ASU Picks Panasas, ADNOC Runs HPC From SGI, Pacific Title & Art Studio, and Cluster Clamor.)

HP is now jumping firmly onto this bandwagon, revealing its intention to open source its Parallel Compositing Library software this week. The Parallel Compositing Library is typically used for processing large volumes of data for compute-intensive tasks such as scientific modeling and oil exploration, although HP now wants to open the technology up to ISVs in an attempt to make HPC applications run faster.

Other storage vendors busy at LinuxWorld this week included Storix, which integrated its backup offerings with Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and silicon vendor ServerEngines, which announced that its 10-Gbit/s Ethernet controller, based on technology licensed from Adaptec, is ready to ship to users. (See Storix Integrates With TSM, ServerEngines Ships BladeEngine, and Adaptec Joins With ServerEngines .)

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT)

  • Coraid Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • The 451 Group

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IBM Tivoli

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Rackable Systems Inc.

  • ServerEngines LLC

  • Storix Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.0

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