By Dave Simpson
This month, SGI delivered a version of its CXFS shared file system software that supports heterogeneous platforms, including Solaris and Windows NT. Previous versions of CXFS, which was introduced in 1999, supported only SGI's IRIX operating system. This latest version has been in development for three years.
For users, the primary benefit is the ability for multiple systems to directly access a single, shared 64-bit file system in a storage area network (SAN) environment. Users on different platforms can access the same file simultaneously, potentially eliminating the need to replicate files.
The heterogeneous version of CXFS--Version 2.1--will compete with existing shared file systems from vendors such as ADIC, IBM/Tivoli, Sun, and Veritas, as well as yet-to-be-delivered file systems from vendors such as IBM and a number of start-ups. Bob Murphy, marketing manager for storage at SGI, claims advantages over existing shared file systems primarily in the areas of performance, journaling, and fail-over support.
According to Murphy CXFS is geared toward SAN environments with very large file sizes, which constitute SGI's traditional customer base.
SGI partner Hitachi Ltd. (which resells CXFS in Japan) plans to port the file system to HP-UX, AIX, and 32-bit Linux but has not announced delivery time frames. SGI plans to port the code to Windows 2000 and XP in the third quarter, and to 64-bit Linux by early next year, according to Murphy.
SGI, which is in turnaround mode, plans to focus on its traditional markets. It will rely on partners for distribution into other markets.
CXFS 2.1 for Windows NT is priced from $1,800 for up to two processors and scales up to four processors. A version for Solaris is priced from $4,200 for up to two processors and scales to 108 processors. Pricing for CXFS for IRIX starts at $3,500 for one or two processors and scales to 512 processors.
SGI also introduced a bundled server--SAN Server 1000--that includes CXFS 2.1, a Fibre Channel switch from Brocade, and storage subsystems from LSI Logic. The server, to be priced from $173,000 for a configuration with 730GB and support for up to six CXFS clients, will be available next month.