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Cisco Buys Into NAS Virtualization With NeoPath Deal

Adding NeoPath to its mix continues Cisco's plan to provide all the network parts of storage networking while avoiding the storage--that is, disk or tape--parts. Cisco will have competitive Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, WAFS and file storage virtualization pieces in place.
The move is also a plus for the growing FAN (File Area Network) approach to handling file services. In-band NAS virtualization systems like NeoPath's, which most people first think of as a consolidation tool, can provide sophisticated features like heterogeneous replication. Such features let users have lower cost-performance NAS devices at their disaster-recovery sites and transparent policy-based data migration for ILM (information lifecycle management). They're uniquely positioned to collect data like access frequency that can improve the quality of classification.
Cisco joins EMC, which acquired Rainfinity, and Brocade (StorageX) as household names in the NAS virtualization market. EMC and Brocade products, however, are out-of-band, which keeps them from providing the most advanced features and limits virtualization to the share/mountpoint level. By comparison, in-band systems can go down to the file level.

Howard Marks
NWC Contributing Editor

Cisco Systems signed a deal this week to buy storage vendor NeoPath Networks, best known for its network-attached storage virtualization technology.

NeoPath's File Director NAS systems create a virtual environment that lets storage servers pool resources. In addition to delivering consolidation services--which can help businesses lower their hardware costs--NeoPath's in-band virtualization systems also provide replication, which companies can use as part of a disaster recovery strategy.

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