Linux-based SANs liftoff

A handful of storage vendors will announce Linux- based products at the show in San Francisco this week, but some folk still have reservations

The potential for Linux adoption within enterprise storage networks will get a boost this week as a handful of storage vendors make announcements at LinuxWorld in San Francisco.

According to a forecast by industry analyst firm Gartner Inc., the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for Linux server shipments from 2003 through 2008 will reach 18.3%. In addition, Gartner estimates that Linux server revenue will grow to more than $6.3 billion by 2008, making Linux the fastest growing operating environment, the firm states.

The following vendors appear to be eager for a slice of this pie.

  • Emulex announced HBA driver support for RedHat and SuSE, enabling enterprises to use Linux to build out SANs. "Now Linux can be the operating system of choice for large storage systems," said a spokesman for Emulex. The company claims Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital, Verizon, DreamWorks and Walt Disney have all incorporated Linux into their data centers and are using Emulex HBAs.

  • Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) announced an increase in SATA RAID performance in Linux-based applications. The 3ware 9000 Series SATA RAID controllers, available in 12-, 8-, and 4-port configurations, provide over 400 MBps performance with Linux Kernel 2.6.x and the XFS File System. Upgrading to Linux Kernel 2.6.x (XFS) using the 3ware 9500 series controller boosts RAID 5 reads by 125% at 408 MBps and writes by 224% at 107 MBps, AMCC claims. The 3ware SATA RAID controller also increases the maximum file system size from 2 TB to 16 TB.

  • Yosemite Technologies' TapeWare backup and recovery software will now support Coraid Inc'.s EtherDrive storage array. The companies claim their alliance will simplify data backup and restore functions for Linux server networks.

  • Veritas Software Inc. announced it will be demonstrating its Storage Foundation Suite software migrating data to Linux servers and showed NetBackup working on RedHat and SuSE – nothing new there, from what we could tell.

  • Red Hat lifted the wraps on its storage file system based on Linux, called RedHat Global File System (GFS). The cluster file system and volume manager are essentially the same product that the company picked up when it purchased Sistina Software last year. But under Red Hat's roof, GFS allows Red Hat Linux servers to shuttle files to one shared system on the SAN in order to avoid redundant copies.

While the news is interesting, as it demonstrates that Linux has moved way beyond its geeky beginnings, skeptics still question whether all the pieces are in place to really enable a datacenter. "How do you back up using Linux, or secure data and perform disaster recovery? Most people won't scrap everything they have been doing just to use Linux," said one industry insider.

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