The cost of clustered NAS, and can it boost Overland?

Almost exactly a year ago I spoke to Overland Storage about their then-new DX1 and DX2 traditional NAS boxes. At the time I questioned why clustered NAS capability had been omitted. After all, it’s a technology that makes total sense; instead of buying traditional NAS devices that are doomed to become silos of data, customers would be far better served by the ability of clustered NAS to scale capacity, I/O and throughput and for all devices to see a single file system.

Well, this week Overland has announced the fruits of development following its acquisition of Maxiscale’s clustered NAS intellectual property two years ago. Overland has taken this, added two years of engineering effort and developed a new clustered NAS OS, called RAINcloud OS.

RAINcloud OS is incorporated in the new SnapScale clustered NAS product. The product comes as a minimum of three nodes in a cluster, with a minimum of four drives in each. You can put a maximum of 12 drives in each node, or have less than full capacity while adding nodes to gain I/O and throughput. Drives are nearline SAS and can be under RAID levels 0, 5, 6 or 10. SSD will be added in 2013, as will automated tiering.

The RAINcloud OS can scale to a staggering 512 PB in a single file system and Andrew Walby, Overland’s EMEA and Asia Pacific sales and marketing VP, says they’ve tested it with 200 nodes with no loss of performance.

So, what do you pay from clustered NAS capability? Well, for 24 TB of Overland’s DX traditional NAS you would pay around $8,000 while for 24 TB of SnapScale clustered NAS you’d shell out around $20,000.

That’s a $12,000 premium for some clever code, and according to Walby, that’s cheap for clustered NAS compared to the likes of Isilon. He was at pains to point out the work that went into RAINcloud.

“The concepts of clustered NAS are simple but the engineering is very complex,” said Walby, who added that he hoped it would usher in better times for the company, which has suffered in recent years. “It could be a game-changer for Overland. There are not as many players as in traditional NAS and we come in a lot cheaper than the competition but still have enterprise features such as snapshots.”