VA Linux jumps into network-attached storage fray

Linux product maker VA Linux Systems Inc. entered the storage market last week with the introduction of two network-attached storage appliances that let large companies store more than 10 terabytes of data in a small space.

The VA Linux 9205 network-attached storage device (NAS) is available in two models: a single- or dual-Pentium III processor configuration. It ships in a 2U, or 3.5-inch-high box, with a capacity of 365GB and can be rack-mounted for locations where space is at a premium.

The company claims that because it uses a Linux kernel and fewer components, it can market the appliance for less than half the cost of a similarly configured device from competitor Network Appliance Inc.

A VA Linux 9205 NAS with 300GB bytes of disk space costs US$46,000. A Network Appliance NetApp F740 with 300GB of data capacity would cost US$98,900.

“We are in the RAID-for-rent business,” said Pete Celano, president and CEO of storage service provider DashCenter Inc. in Clarksville, Md. “We can put a couple of terabytes in a rack at our collocation space where real estate is expensive. The 9205 appliance is IP-addressable, very fast and inexpensive.”

Studies from market research firm International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., show that the NAS market will expand to US$6.5 billion by 2003, from US$1.8 billion this year.

The VA Linux 9205 NAS is available now and ships with management software that monitors the system and can generate alerts to a local management console if problems occur. The devices also ship with Ext3, a journaled file system for Linux that keeps a record of transactions that occurred so the system can be brought up faster in case failure happens.

The device can also be configured as a mission-critical RAID 5 appliance, in which data is read and written in overlapped fashion to five disks of the array, and parity information is used to reconstruct the data if a failure occurs.

The 9205 also conforms to the Network Data Management Protocol, a protocol adopted by many storage vendors for backing up network-based data.

The 9205 operates in the Common Internet File System environments used in Windows NT and 2000, or the Network File System networks used with Linux and Unix. It contains a 10/100/1000-gigabit Ethernet adapter for attachment to the network.

For more information, see VA Linux on the Web at