NetApp Virtualizes File System Line


Network Appliance renamed and revamped its key file system line to improve the way it works with storage systems from competitors.

Formerly called gFiler, the NetApp V-Series is a combination of software and hardware that consolidates DAS , NAS and SAN , virtualizing storage from several competing vendors in one pool to help corporations better use assets and trim the cost of running systems.

V-Series connects to and virtualizes arrays from IBM , Sun Microsystems , HP and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) , according to Jeff Hornung, vice president and general manager of enterprise file services at NetApp.

The systems perform faster data recovery and backup, as well as asynchronous and synchronous replication for online disaster recovery. Available now, V-Series will also run NetApp data management applications, such as SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange and SnapManager for Microsoft SQL Server.

Hornung said NetApp nixed the gFiler name in favor of V-Series to reflect the numerous changes the product has gone through since its inception two years ago.

The solution started out providing NFS and CFS file access for HDS Lightning arrays. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company has enhanced its capabilities since adding the support for multiple vendor arrays. It also covers block-based storage, such as iSCSI , in addition to the file-based protocols it backed at birth.

Last November, NetApp ratcheted up its virtualization offerings with Data Ontap 7G, an operating system with virtualization capabilities that pools storage devices.

Data Ontap 7G features FlexVol, a software feature that helps provision storage for applications. FlexVol creates virtualized data containers that eliminate performance and utilization bottlenecks.

Even after the 7G release, each gFiler could only support one type of storage from one vendor, whether it was HDS' Thunder or Lightning or IBM's Shark storage server, Hornung said. That has been augmented in V-Series, which now features tiered storage, so a single V-series can support multiple vendors behind one machine.

V-Series also supports Fibre Channel and less costly serial ATA drives.

NetApp competes with EMC and IBM, Sun, HP and HDS. But storage vendors have found it increasingly necessary to support rivals' products as a show of good faith to customers who run storage from several companies.


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