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Avere Takes On Storage In Stages

Avere Systems is using a multi-stage storage approach in its new FXT Series, introduced this week. The FXT appliances contain a variety of storage technologies that are designed to place the proper combination of characteristics at each point along the storage deployment chain. The result, according to the company, will be a total storage environment that is much higher in performance than a basic SAN or NAS solution without requiring the large investment of a completely new storage system.

The FXT is available directly from Avere beginning October 15, and will
ultimately be available through a reseller channel and system
integrators. The FXT will initially be available in two versions
separated only be the storage capacity of each. The Model 2300 has an
MSRP of $52,000., while the Model 2500 has an MSRP of $7200.

According to Ron Bianchini, Avere Systems CEO, the dynamics of rotating-media storage have made a product like the FXT necessary. "Capacity is growing as the area of the platters, but performance is growing as the perimeter of the platters. The net result is that, on a per-bit basis, disk drives have been getting much slower. This puts us in a performance deficit," he explains. Bianchini says that storage devices have, over the last decade or so, grown much larger in capacity while performance has barely changed.

Bianchini says that Avere engineers decided that no single technology can completely solve the storage system performance problem. Instead of looking for the single "home run" technology, they developed a tiered solution. Each FXT appliance is designed to contain three levels of storage: HDD, SSD, and RAM. The basic notion is that large blocks of data are fetched from the legacy storage system into the FXT's hard disk drives. Smaller blocks will be moved from there into the solid-state storage, with still smaller blocks brought into RAM for movement to the application servers.

The same technique works for writing. Random writing leverages the log-based file system where small files/blocks are collected into a large log or journal and written at once. Bianchini says that the journaling technique reduces the tie of a particular storage technology to a specific type of access, making the performance improvement more consistent across multiple applications.

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