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Mega-Nas innovation could provide cheap, scalable storage

Antony Adshead
A US start-up has devised a switch which will allow disparate network-attached storage (Nas) devices to be aggregated to provide up to 128Tbytes of storage.

The Z-force File Switch will enable Nas users to link and centrally manage multiple standard Nas devices, removing the need for the types of systems usually associated with ultra-high-capacity data storage, such as storage area networks (Sans).

Californian firm Z-force is currently putting the device through trials with hardware manufacturers and hopes to ship products early next year.

Nas appliances are usually attached directly to the network, often at departmental level. For this reason they have tended to proliferate unconnected throughout the business.

Sans, on the other hand, are dedicated networks of large numbers of storage devices. Z-force's switch aims to connect Nas to provide a single logical storage array in the same way as is provided physically with a San.

Graham Titterington, an analyst with Ovum, said, "This looks like a development that could be useful. Some users may not want to go in the direction of San because of the investment needed and may see this 'mega-Nas' as an alternative," he said.

"Its success will, however, depend on whether it gets the backing of the big players in storage equipment."

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