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Expert View: Global File System Or Global Name Space?

Give engineers a problem to solve and they'll try to reinvent the wheel. Data sharing is a case in point.

Back in the mid-1990s, I asked Microsoft and Sun Microsystems for ideas on how to share files between operating systems. Microsoft recommended ditching all Sun equipment and replacing it with Wintel machines. Sun predictably advised ripping out the Redmond wares and replacing them with its own.

In desperation, I turned to IBM's Data Sharing Competency Center, only to be told that DSCC offers data replication solutions. Absent a universal file system, the best I could do was share a copy of a file.

Fast-forward 10 years. Again, the battle lines are being drawn.

With file copy sharing falling by the wayside, IBM has pushed out its first-generation Storage Tank, complete with a universal file-sharing system. This system requires agents on every server, where they intercept normal server file-sharing functions to place all files into IBM's proprietary SAN file system--preferably on IBM-branded storage platforms aggregated into storage pools behind an IBM Storage Virtualization Controller.

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