IBM announces 14 petabyte NAS array

The Scale Out Network Attached Storage offering is based on IBM's General Parallel File System, originally developed for supercomputers

IBM this week announced a network-attached storage array, aimed at medium and large enterprises, that is capable of scaling to more than 14 petabytes under a single name space.

The Scale Out Network Attached Storage (Sonas), announced on Tuesday, is a rack-sized array based on the company's General Parallel File System (GPFS), originally developed for supercomputers. While GPFS has been available for about 10 years, this is the first time it has been used in a storage array aimed at commercial workloads.

IBM said the system can reduce companies' operating costs by allowing them to consolidate storage hardware. The list price for the array starts at $500,000 (£320,000). IBM said it would begin shipping Sonas systems on 12 March.

The system can contain from one to 30 storage pods, each of which consists of a storage node, a storage controller and attached disks, for a maximum capacity of 14.4PB, according to IBM. The array can use either 15,000 RPM SAS hard disk drives or less costly 7,200 RPM drives.

The array also includes between two and 30 interface nodes and one or two management nodes. The modular design of Sonas means storage capacity and interface bandwidth can be added independently of each other.

Sonas supports standard NAS features including snapshots, quotas and integration with user directory servers including Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP, as well as integration with Tivoli Storage Manager for hierarchical storage management. This means data can be moved across different storage platforms, including tape.

IBM's innovation with Sonas is packaging a supercomputing parallel file system in an integrated storage system that requires little technical expertise to implement, according to a research note from Ideas International, an enterprise IT infrastructure research firm.

"To replace typical commercial NAS based on parallel file systems need to reduce implementation complexity and offer equivalent or better data protection and management features," Ideas International analyst Joe Zhou wrote.

"The IBM Sonas greatly streamlines the GPFS deployment by pre-integrating best-of-breed components into an appliance form factor that is simple to implement."

The only comparable appliance-style storage system is the StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage family of products from HP, according to Ideas International. The X9000 products are based on a parallel file system from Ibrix, which was acquired by HP in July 2009.

Other vendors offering clustered NAS systems include Isilon Systems and Panasas. Dell said earlier this week it had put in a bid for the assets of clustered storage vendor Exanet, which is currently undergoing Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings in Israel.


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