NFSv4.1 has the potential to become a standards-based convergence point for all those different solutions, blending even clustered solutions (Lustre, NetApp, Isilon, BlueArc) into a parallel behavior. The new version should also offer more connectivity options, such as block-based data transfers using protocols such as iSCSI.
Obviously, each vendor will decide on its own whether or not to adopt the new standard, but the initial landscape seems encouraging, with most vendors committed to embracing it, according to Panasas. Moreover, from quick conversations with BlueArc and Isilon, I got a general acceptance — in principle — of the new protocol, although actual implementation will depend on customers’ demands.
Why, then, is Panasas essentially giving away client applications that Len Rosenthal, chief marketing officer for Panasas, says are some of the company's “crown jewels”?
The hope is to make that technology part of the upcoming NFSv4.1, which would give Panasas the slight competitive advantage of easily becoming standard-compliant while implementing a well-known client architecture.
I don’t read minds, but from where I stand, all seems to indicate that Panasas’ gambit won’t be quite the Trojan horse it seems at first glance. NFSv4.1's complexity and broad scope will require each player to build a rather sophisticated client, a challenging task that the "gift" from Panasas should somewhat alleviate. Stay tuned.
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