Network storage vendors take to Linux

Network World |  Operating Systems

NEW YORK - A slew of hardware products introduced at LinuxWorld Expo should help users more easily store data in mixed Windows NT, Unix and Linux environments.

Last week LAND-5, Overland Data, MTI and ADIC announced products ranging from network-attached storage (NAS) appliances and tape libraries to RAID systems aimed at midsize to large enterprise customers.

"In e-commerce, application hosting and Internet applications, we needed an enterprise-class storage offering that was scalable across a number of operating system platforms, including Linux, Solaris and Windows NT," says Bob Johnson, a director at application service provider Breakaway in New York.

Taking multiplatform requirements seriously, LAND-5 rolled out the Linux-based iCEbox StoragePod. The Pentium III NAS appliance offers up to 4.5 terabytes of RAID storage, which can be accessed by Linux, Unix or Windows NT clients. It supports RAID Levels 0, 1, 0+1, 4 and 5.

The StoragePod appliance uses browser-based software RAID technology that allows increased performance over hardware-based RAID. It uses the system CPU, which is otherwise idle, to increase processing power.

Available in a rack-mounted configuration, StoragePod connects to 10/100 Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet or Fibre Channel networks. Fans, power supplies and drives are all hot-swappable. The iCEbox StoragePod with three 9G-byte Ultra2 SCSI disk drives starts at $8,000. It will be available this month.

By 2003, nearly 25% of server appliances will run Linux, according to International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. Today, Linux server appliances account for 14% of the appliance market. Linux is lightweight and inexpensive, making it a good operating system to ship embedded in NAS devices, says Dave Hill, an analyst with Aberdeen Group in Boston.

Traditional storage device vendors are also adopting Linux. Overland Data announced that all its AIT and Digital Linear Tape (DLT) libraries now support Linux. Previously, they operated on Windows NT and Unix platforms. The company's tape libraries support capacities of more than 8 terabytes. Data can be backed up to the tape libraries using Linux versions of Legato Networker, Veritas NetBackup, Knox Software's Arkeia or UniTrends Software's CTAR.

Finally, MTI added Linux support for its midrange to high-end Vivant RAID subsystems and storage data services, which operate on Windows NT and Unix networks.

The Vivant system consists of connectivity for Fibre Channel storage-area networks, NAS, backup, replication and management services and are built around Caldera's OpenLinux technology.

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