VA Linux launches new network storage appliance

Users will be able to more quickly integrate and expand network-attached storage (NAS) with a high-end, embedded Linux appliance that VA Linux Systems Inc. introduced last month.

The VA Linux 9450 is a NAS appliance that lets users consolidate storage from a variety of servers on the network. The NAS appliance, with a capacity of 180GB to more than six terabytes, can be easily expanded as storage needs grow, the company claims.

The VA Linux 9450 NAS appliance supports Linux, Unix, Windows 2000 and Macintosh operating systems, letting those users transparently access files stored on the device. It also supports HTTP and VA Linux’s NetAttach (VANA) storage operating environment. The machine comes with free software upgrades and customer support.

Analysts say the demand for increased storage capacity, faster systems and lower cost of ownership is driving the need for faster, less complicated storage devices.

“We are in the process of migrating from a large distributed network, including all of our shares, groups and e-mail folders, into this NAS system,” says Mark Thoreson, a manager at federal reseller GTSI in Chantilly, Va. “The VA Linux box lets us consolidate all these files and duplicate space into a centralized environment we can manage more easily.”

GTSI has more than one terabyte of data stored on servers around its offices.

Thoreson chose VA Linux because it gave his network the necessary performance and scalability. “The VA Linux NAS was about 40-plus per cent less than Network Appliance’s [file server] and 80 per cent to 90 per cent less than EMC (Corp.) for the amount of storage,” he says.

With the 9450, VA Linux is gunning for Network Appliance. According to company claims, the 9450 competes in the NAS market with Network Appliance Inc.’s NetApps 840 file server.

“VA has a shot at commoditizing NAS because [it] offers all the important file protocols – [Network File System, Common Internet File System,] HTTP and AppleTalk – at no extra cost,” says Bill Claybrook, an analyst with Aberdeen Group Inc.

“With Linux on the NAS itself, VA has the potential to offer considerable [features] compared with Network Appliance’s and EMC’s Celerra products. On the other hand, the company has to serve up data at sufficiently high rates to compete with these pared down operating systems or else they will not succeed,” Claybrook says.

VA Linux acquired storage vendor NetAttach last year. VANA includes a status monitor that lets customers centrally manage all the NAS devices attached to the network and a “phone home” feature that alerts the customer and the VA Linux Alert Monitoring Center before trouble occurs, the company says.

VANA also supports snapshot back-up capability, in which images of the network data are taken at different points in time, thereby maintaining the integrity of the data. It also adds a Logical Volume Manager, SNMP management support, the Ext3 journaling file system, Open Network Data Management Protocol for LAN-free back-up, single sign-on and access to Windows NT domains.

The VA Linux 9450 NAS has hot-swappable, redundant power supplies and fans. It sells for less than US$30,000 for 180GB of storage and is available immediately. For more information, see the company’s Web site at

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