Apple Bumps Up Storage Networking

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Out with the old, in with the new. That seems to be the guiding philosophy at Apple these days as the company makes changes to its enterprise storage offerings.


Users of Apple's SAN file system will be happy to know that the company has launched the first major upgrade since its introduction in 2005. The Xsan 2 is intended to simplify the establishment of new SANs, allowing enterprises to expand networking capabilities to meet changing business needs.


A key component of the system is a new setup assistant that can run as a standalone application or as an integrated component of the OS X server. The assistant handles virtually all the time-consuming tasks of setting up a new SAN, such as establishing open director permission and configuring volume settings. A host of other OS X features, such as the iCal Server, Mail Server and Podcast Producer, can also be integrated with Xsan 2 to support clustered file systems and enhance failover capabilities.


Another significant upgrade is the MultiSAN feature, which extends workstation access to multiple SAN volumes. With it, users can copy files from one volume to another over Fibre Channel networks, greatly enhancing the speed at which they can access data.


Xsan 2 has already been qualified to run on third-party RAID systems, which is only fitting considering the company's decision to discontinue its own line of Xserve RAID offerings. A company spokesman is quoted here as saying that the Promise VTrak RAID system offers compatible performance at a little more than $1 per GB. The VTrak offers four 4 Gb Fibre Channel ports, dual active/active RAID 5 controllers, and can handle workloads up to 1.4 GBps sequential read and 617 Mbps sequential write performance.


The VTrak system must have really wowed the top brass at Jobs & Co., considering the tight rein the company has traditionally maintained over its computing platforms. Most likely, it's part of a broader recognition that, unlike consumers, enterprise customers aren't as brand loyal when it comes to making their networks hum.