Acopia enhances file virtualization

Posted on July 22, 2005

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By Ann Silverthorn

—This week, Acopia Networks released version 2.0 of the operating system for its Adaptive Resource Switch (ARX) series of file virtualization switches. For the new release, Acopia enhanced global namespace capabilities and introduced non-disruptive operational fail-over between data centers, clustering for real-time load distribution, and new management tools.

Acopia started shipping its ARX products in the fall of 2004. The company targets large enterprises and claims a number of Fortune 500 customers, such as Warner Music and Merrill Lynch. Acopia competes primarily with file virtualization vendors such as NeoPath (File Director), NuView (StorageX), and Rainfinity (RainStorage).

Acopia's 2.0 file virtualization solution features Global File Network Services, which provides multi-switch and multi-site global namespace capabilities with an enterprise-wide view of file data. It also promises non-disruptive operational fail-over.

Joe Wisniewski, product manager at Acopia, explains, "If a bank's primary site goes down, it typically has to reboot and point all the network connections to the disaster-recovery site. With Acopia on both sides, it can automatically reroute the connections, because the mount point stays the same. The fail-over time goes from hours—or even days—to just minutes."

The performance load-balancing feature solves the "hot-filer" problem in which a tremendous amount of computer power hits a single NAS device at once, creating a bottleneck. Acopia's ARX platform load balances the application across multiple filers.

New management tools for the Adaptive Resource Networking operating system include ARN-Manager and ARN-Site Analyzer. ARN-Manager is a GUI-based configuration and monitoring tool. ARN-Site Analyzer was originally used in sales cycles to give customers a view of what was happening on the back-end of their systems. "Customers might know that their average utilization is 50% on their NAS boxes, but they often don't have an idea of what types of files they have on the back-end or the age of those files," says Wisniewski. "The site analyzer is a tool for users to get a better idea of what kinds of files they have across their file systems and also to help them do "what-if" analysis. They can get a sense of how virtualization policies may affect the back-end and what kind of cost/benefit they can get from it."

Wisniewski says Acopia competes in the oil and gas, media rendering, and entertainment markets against some of the clustered file system vendors like Ibrix, Panasas, and PolyServe. "Our customers like the fact that they don't have to do a forklift upgrade and deploy a whole new file system. We provide virtualization capability in a switch."

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ARX Series at-a-glance




Product Name Form Factor Speed Number of Files Supported Average List Price
ARX 6000 13U Modular 2 GBps >1 billion $150,000
ARX 1000 2U Fixed 400 MBps ~250 million $55,000
ARX 500 1U Fixed 100 MBps ~120 million $25,000

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