Crosswalk, the data protection management vendor, has introduced its grid storage product. The iGrid 5100 comes as two to eight nodes sitting between Fibre Channel-connected storage and gigabit Ethernet-connected servers. The servers see a single virtualized NAS resource. The nodes operate together to present the storage as a single global shared pool up to 4 exabytes in size. Accessing servers can use either NFS or the Windows CIFS protocol to access files.

They have parallel and scalable I/O to the stored files as each grid node can support 8 to 12 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The nodes, 3U rack units, have four 64-bit CPUs and 8 – 32 GB RAM. They connect to the storage via 8 Fibre Channel (FC) ports and the storage can be FC drives, FC-connected serial ATA (SATA) drives or FC-connected tape devices.

Data can be moved from one set of physical storage to another with accessing servers being unaware of the migration. New storage capacity can be added nondisruptively. The grid nodes have high-availability features, such as automatic failover if one should fail. They cooperate to load-balance I/O traffic. Remote vaulting, backup and snapshots are supported. In future up to 255 grid nodes will be supported.

Crosswalk’s iGrid resembles clustered NAS gateway products from Acopia and Exanet, also Isilon, which aim to provide super-scalable NAS gateways offering high-end performance and capacity growth.

Crosswalk’s launch makes the absence of equivalent high-end NAS products from EMC and NetApp more noticeable. It also contrasts strongly with grid storage concepts from HP, IBM and Sun. HP’s smart cell-based grid concept, embodied in its RISS product, resembles EMC’s Centera in its application. IBM has a file-based grid storage idea in Storage Tank which is being used in a Cern research project. Sun’s grid storage is modelled exactly on a water or electricity grid and has storage capacity available over a network for a dollar a unit per time period. It just offers disk blocks for rent with no NAS or SAN organization at all.

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