Apple offers enterprise-class SAN solution

Apple Computer Inc. last month introduced Xsan, a high-performance, enterprise-class Storage Area Network (SAN) file system, which is said to be priced most affordably. Xsan software aims to combine breakthrough performance with Apple's ease-of-use, for customers who require scalable, high-speed access to centralized shared data for video workflow and storage consolidation, and, according to the company, is the perfect complement to Apple's Xserve and Xserve Raid hardware.

"Apple's pro video and ICT customers now have an affordable, high-performance SAN file system on Mac OS X," says Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing. "Xsan delivers a powerful end-to-end SAN solution, with less complexity and no hidden charges, at under half the price of alternatives from Avid (Technologies Inc., IBM (Corp.) and SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.)."

Xsan is a 64-bit cluster file system for Mac OS X that aims to enable organizations to consolidate storage resources, and to provide multiple computers with concurrent file-level read/write access to shared volumes over Fibre Channel. It is certified with Apple's suite of professional applications, including Final Cut Pro HD, Apple says. According to the company, for the first time on Mac OS X, up to 64 video professionals can simultaneously access a single storage volume that supports multiple high-bandwidth video streams for efficient workflow in video and film editing, audio editing and effects, and motion graphics creation.

"Xsan will build on our investment in Final Cut Pro, Xserve and Xserve Raid to deliver a high-performance, end-to-end SAN solution for video workflow," says Bob Farina, CEO of the Cimarron Group, a Hollywood entertainment marketing agencies. "We are thrilled with Xsan because no other solution on the platform can provide the performance, functionality, stability and security that we require to produce trailers and more for the next generation of blockbuster movies."

Xsan is said to be ideal for demanding professional video workflows, as well as storage consolidation for business, government, education and high-performance computing. Advanced features, such as metadata controller failover and fibre channel multipathing, aim to ensure high availability; file-level locking is designed to allow multiple systems to read and write concurrently, which is ideal for complex workflows; while bandwidth reservation is said to provide for effective ingestion of bandwidth-intensive data streams, such as high resolution video; and flexible volume management is designed to result in more efficient use of storage resources.

Set up, administration and monitoring is built into the Xsan Admin tool which aims to provide volume management, SAN file system configuration and remote monitoring in one application. User quotas and access controls are designed to allow administrators to restrict storage usage and file access for maximum data security. Since Xsan is interoperable with ADIC's StorNext File System, it can be used in heterogeneous environments that include Windows, Unix and Linux server operating system platforms, the company says. Additionally, Xsan is said to be supported by ADIC's data management software, StorNext Management Suite.

"We are delighted that Xsan is interoperable with StorNext File System and our full range of policy-based data management software," says Bill Yaman, vice-president of ADIC Software. "By integrating Mac OS X data into their unified storage environments, our customers will optimize storage utilization, simplify data management and further build a foundation for Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)," concludes Yaman.

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