Network Appliance Kicks Off Virtualization Product

Mar 29, 2005 (12:03 PM EST)

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Storage vendor Network Appliance Inc. upped the ante in the storage-virtualization battle Tuesday, giving its product a new name and enhancing it to more easily connect to back-end disk arrays.

The company rechristened its gFiler system the V-Series and says it can be tiered with its own storage arrays or those from other vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, and Sun Microsystems.

For example, a V-Series system could virtualize storage from both a Hitachi Data Lightning array and a Hitachi Data Thunder array. Alternatively, it could virtualize storage from different vendors, such as IBM and Hitachi.

The name change reflects the fact that the product works not only with file servers in network-attached storage systems, but with Fibre Channel and IP-based storage area networks, says Jeff Hornung, general manager of enterprise file services and storage networking. The virtualization technology is managed by Network Appliance's Ontap 7G software.

Virtualization is a method of shielding applications from the underlying physical storage. It allows greater utilization of disk arrays by creating a single pool of storage from heterogeneous systems.

IBM will showcase its virtualization technology at an event Wednesday. Its flagship virtualization product, SAN Volume Controller, as well as Hitachi's TagmaStore, embed the virtualization intelligence within the controller itself. EMC Corp.'s Storage Router, which is in beta test and is scheduled for release this summer, embeds the intelligence within switches from Brocade Communications, Cisco Systems, and McData.