Gluster Virtualizes Scale-Out NAS For VMware, Amazon Cloud Environments

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Gluster this week introduces a new version of its clustered file system that can be used in VMware and Amazon environments to create virtual scale-out NAS appliances.

The goal of the new Gluster Virtual Storage Appliance software is to enable scale-out NAS capabilities in both virtualized and cloud environments, said Jack O'Brien, vice president of marketing for the Milpitas, Calif.-based storage vendor.

Scale-out NAS is a way of non-disruptively increasing the performance and capacity of network-attached storage using a clustered or grid storage system. It uses standard servers nodes, each with its own processing power, storage capacity, and I/O bandwidth so that as capacity is added, the processing power and bandwidth increase at the same time.

Gluster has offered its scale-out NAS file system, GlusterFS, for use either as a stand-alone file system customers can install on top of their own operating system, or as more of a storage platform with its own GUI and management tools, O'Brien said.

The new Gluster Virtual Storage Appliance software, however, can now package GlusterFS either as a virtual appliance for use in VMware environments or as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for use in computing clouds based on Amazon Web Services (AWS), he said.

The move comes at the amount of unstructured data is growing at about 60 percent year-over-year, O'Brien said, quoting IDC data. IDC also predicts that 50 percent of all data center workloads will be virtualized by next year, and that 12 percent of all IT spending will be cloud-related, he said.

The importance of scale-out NAS was emphasized late last year when EMC decided to spend $2.25 billion to acquire scale-out NAS pioneer Isilon.

Compared to traditional hardware-based nodes, virtual scale-out NAS appliances take less time to provision and deploy, and cost less in part because they take advantage of commodity servers and open source software, O'Brien said.

"At a high level, we're seeing storage infrastructures changing to look more like the compute infrastructure," he said. "This is happening as customers rush to virtualization and the cloud."

The new Gluster Virtual Storage Appliance software comes in two versions. For VMware virtualized environments, the GlusterFS is integrated as a virtual machine for deployment on any VMware-certified hardware or cloud platform.

For AWS environments, the GlusterFS is packaged as an AMI for deployment on an AWS cloud, O'Brien said.

The more virtual machines are deployed, the higher the performance, O'Brien said. For increased capacity, customers can deploy more disk drives to work with the virtual machines. "There is a little performance overhead, maybe 5 percent, at worst 10 percent," he said. "If the customer is I/O or CPU constrained, they can add more VMs or physical machines."

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