ONStor Peddles SAN Consolidation

Says its SAN file server connects as easily as a NAS gateway for data consolidation

December 10, 2003

3 Min Read
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Taking advantage of a trend to integrate NAS and SAN devices, startup ONStor Inc.announced its first product today -- a file system that works like a NAS gateway to connect SAN equipment from multiple vendors.

The ONStor SF4400 SAN filer links to a Fibre Channel or Gigabit switch to become the front end of a SAN and handles file-based storage. It's aimed primarily at enterprises looking to consolidate their SAN services.

Unlike competing products such as gFiler from Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)and EMCsCelera NAS gateways, ONStor’s product works with SAN gear from third-party vendors.

While ONStor is unlikely to find a place in shops already using NetApp or EMC, the company hopes to gain traction against the NAS gateway giants in enterprises looking to consolidate services on SANs based on a range of vendors' equipment (see Sands Shift Under NAS Market).

At least one analyst thinks ONStor's approach should succeed. “It attaches to a heterogeneous disk system and takes advantage of the SAN. If you’ve already built a SAN and want to provide file service, these guys have an advantage. Pure SAN customers will find it attractive," says analyst Arun Taneja of The Taneja Group.The ONStor system integrates a 64-bit SMP architecture running a UNIX-based operating system. Its software includes native CIFS and NFS protocols with data snapshot capability, and it bundles mirroring, failover, file manager, and load balancing applications. The gateway can connect to SAN devices through four Fibre Channel or Ethernet ports, allowing enterprises to pool up to four filers for disk-to-disk data replication. If one filer fails, another will take over.

ONStor marketing VP Peter Tarrant says perhaps the best benefit for IT administrators will be the time savings. “This gives them their nights and weekends back. They can go out because they can do this [backup] during the day.”

Pricing for the ONStor SF4400 SAN filer begins at $85,000 for a system capable of 16,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS) that is scaleable to 140,000 IOPS and 40 petabytes of capacity. The system is certified to run with SAN storage devices from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), and switches from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA). Tarrant says ONStor is working to get certified on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) switches.

ONStor also announced partnerships with IBM resellers Micro Strategies, Champion Solutions Group, Evolving Solutions, Key Information Solutions, and Maxium Solutions, and integrator AC Technologies. ONStor also has end-user customers, including Responsys.

This is ONStor's first product. But it's not a brand-new startup. The company was founded in October 2000 and has raised $40 million in funding. Oddly, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company has struggled to find a name it could keep. It changed its name from Agile Storage to ClariStor to avoid a potential trademark dispute with Agile Software Corp. A subsequent name change followed last February when EMC threatened to sue because of the similarity of ClariStor to Clariion -- the name of EMC’s midrange SAN array (see EMC Makes Startup Drop Name).— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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