I'm sure you've heard of storage vendor BlueArc and its Titan line of ultrafast storage systems. In case the name escapes you, here's a refresher.
The company is well known for its exceptionally fast flagship NAS system, the Titan SiliconServer, now about 18 months old. The Titan promises fast file transfers, exceptional scalability, and a resilient, modular architecture that facilitates upgrades and minimizes the consequence of malfunctions. On top of that hardware structure, the Titan runs a respectable suite of applications to provide: snapshots and storage-internal data copy, for example.
How does Titan differ from other NAS systems? For starters, key activities such as routing and file-serving are quickly executed in FPGA (field-programmable gate arrays) andASIC chips, which make wire-speed transfers possible. The two 4U servers at the heart of the Titan have dedicated blades for network connections, storage, and file systems that customers may adapt to their requirements.
In fact, in addition to file-serving for Windows and Unix, a Titan can be equipped with network ports capable of sustaining the fastest FC (Fibre Channel) and Ethernet speeds. Add to that the ability to mount FC or SATA disks, capacity ranging to as much as 256TB, and performance levels reaching 50,000 I/O per second for each server, and you have a system that's difficult to outgrow.
This nonexhaustive summary of Titan took three paragraphs, which is an indication of its sizeable set of features. Future summaries could even take longer, because BlueArc recently announced an update with some very interesting additional capabilities for the Titan software, such as the ability to define virtual servers and support for iSCSI and WORM file systems.
Support for iSCSI means that the Titan now provides fast access to block-based volumes for a variety of servers, which will come in handy for applications such as databases and e-mail systems, and allows migration legacy applications to networked storage at a moderate cost.
WORM support is probably the most surprising of the new features, but BlueArc explains that in addition to compliance with regulatory requirements, some customers need long-term, fast, and repeated access to files that must remain unchanged. Bringing WORM to the Titan satisfies both those demands, and partnership with other vendors will add seamless transfer of WORMed data to tape.
The new release also includes the ability to automatically migrate data from, say, expensive FC disks to roomy SATA enclosures. Both types of devices were previously supported by Titan, but the new version allows you to define policies to automatically move data according to criteria such as age or file type.
If, after reading all this, you're thinking ILM (information lifecycle management), so am I. Obviously BlueArc doesn't want to leave the ILM stone unturned, nor give that advantage to competing storage systems from, say, EMC or NetApp. Mirroring volumes over dark fiber is another interesting feature of the new release, and it should simplify disaster recovery within a campus or a MAN (metropolitan area network).