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Nexenta Namespace Cluster Upgrade Cuts Storage Limitations

Available now, Nexenta Systems' revamped Namespace Cluster will virtually eliminate technical limitations on scalability and allow users to connect thousands of nodes to work together as one file system. The vendor of OpenStorage solutions, which is also announcing the latest release of its enterprise-class storage platform (NexentaStor 3.1), says the new offering dynamically scales out storage capacity and performance, while consolidating and reducing the complexities of managing petabyte-scale storage deployments.

Nexenta CEO Evan Powell says Namespace Cluster adds even more benefits that cannot be matched by legacy storage for cloud and other large use deployments. The company released an earlier version, but it lacked the management, migration and load-balancing capabilities it is announcing now, he says. With its addition, NexentaStor now can scale horizontally just as easily; it already blows through the technical and business model limitations to scaling legacy systems vertically.

Namespace Cluster features include migration of data and associated workloads between nodes without enduser disruption; simplified management of numerous files across up to 256 storage machines; management of an entire federation of nodes from any single node; and multilevel data protection, such as 128-bit-based transactional check-sums, active/active clusters and the ability to have hundreds of petabytes in one name space.

This is a significant release, says Henry Baltazar, senior analyst, storage and systems, The 451 Group: "This feature is important since it should help customers reduce their storage management, eliminating the need for users to log into multiple NAS units to get access to data."

Enhanced to address ease of use and performance, NexentaStor 3.1 includes metro or stretch cluster capabilities and enhancements to its asynchronous replication capabilities that allow up to 10 replication streams to be aggregated. The new release of the ZFS file system-based solution also reduces storage requirements in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments by freeing up space at the back end through SCSI UNMAP, allowing for the shrinking of thin-provisioned volumes. The company says that, when combined with cloning and inline deduplication and compression, some users have seen more than a 100-to-one reduction in space for VDI when using NexentaStor.

Baltazar believes it's still fairly early days as far as scale-out NAS goes, and, thus far, most deployments have been in vertical markets such as high-performance computing and media and entertainment. Nexenta is joining a competitive market, going up against a number of rivals, including NetApp, EMC (Isilon Systems), Dell (Exanet), HP and IBM, he adds.

"I think Nexenta's software-only model could be appealing to some market segments such as service providers, which have strong management capabilities and access to inexpensive commodity hardware," says Baltazar. "In the larger enterprise, customers prefer appliance-like NAS systems with integrated hardware and software, which is easier to support. Tighter budgets and improved market recognition could entice more enterprises to look at software players such as Nexenta, but that will not happen overnight."

Overall, Baltazar says, unstructured data growth continues to be a challenge for many enterprise customers and service providers. "While traditional NAS has done a fairly good job up until now, with multipetabyte deployments becoming more common, customers need to reduce their management costs with technologies such as the Namespace Cluster. ... There is still a lot of competition in the space."

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