IBM will release a distributed file-system technology which will provide storage management capabilities across storage area networks (San) with disc arrays and servers from multiple suppliers.
The TotalStorage San File System offering is based on IBM's Storage Tank virtualisation software, and it works by creating a file-sharing protocol that lets servers use a distributed storage network as if it were a local file system.
"In theory, all the big servers in a San will be able to concurrently access the same data," said Steve Duplessie, an analyst at The Enterprise Storage Group.
At the moment the San File System only supports IBM's own Enterprise Storage Server disc arrays plus servers running its AIX operating system and Windows 2000.
IBM is trying to convince other suppliers to link their storage devices to the technology under a plan announced last spring.
IBM also plans to release versions of the San File System bundled with Linux-based versions of its xSeries servers in December.
In addition to Storage Tank, the San File System includes metadata servers and software agents that are installed on each file server on a San. The metadata servers keep track of information such as the physical location of data, file sizes and end-user access permissions.
Francois Fluckiger, deputy head of the OpenLab project at CERN, a nuclear research laboratory in Geneva, is testing the San File System with some of his servers.
CERN plans to give researchers online access to huge amounts of data from an atomic accelerator that smashes nuclear particles together. In order to do that, it needs a distributed file system, Fluckiger said.
"The storage issue is one of most stringent requirements of all," he noted. "We're planning on storing 15 petabytes of data per year."
Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld