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VA Linux Releases Midrange NAS

Hoping to compete with Network Appliance Inc’s filers, VA Linux Systems Inc. has released a NAS filer to offer scalable storage to departmental and workgroup users.

VA’s 9450’s NAS Appliance is a 2U rack unit which can manage up to 6.6TB of data. It connects to the network via gigabit Ethernet, and employs the Ultra160 high-speed SCSI standard. VA bundles the device with its VA NetAttach Linux operating environment, to enable transparent management via a browser or command line.

As NetApp attempts to move its filers further up the enterprise, promoting the devices as alternative to SANs, VA hopes to erode some of NetApp’s market at the midrange. Unlike NetApp, which uses proprietary operating systems and filesystems, VA based its NAS around Linux, and supports NFS, CIFS, and the Macintosh filesystem, HFS.

Cheryl Sindelar, a VA product marketing manager, says Linux offers distinct advantages over proprietary operating systems. “Using open source leverages so many developers that don’t work for you,” she says, noting software upgrades can be released and supported more quickly than on a proprietary black box. If VA decides to support additional filesystems, it can simply roll them into the kernel, and release it to customers. Additionally, daring users can modify the software themselves.

VA NetAttach, VA’s operating environment for NAS devices, provides a value add to both the storage hardware, and Linux. “What makes storage storage is the software that runs it,” says David Farace, director of storage system sales. He points to the automated interface for setting up Samba, the Linux service for networking with Windows, as a key feature for some customers. “Samba can be a real bear to integrate and manage,” he says, so users may be aided by the automation.

VA also announced today that it hired a number of prominent Samba developers to join its NAS software team. Andrew Tridgell and Jeremy Allison led the volunteer Samba group, managing developers working on the Windows services project. –Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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