By Dave Simpson
This month, startup Avere Systems introduced its FXT line of appliances, which are designed to accelerate the performance of existing NAS filers by introducing layers of "tiered NAS" consisting of RAM, 15,000rpm SAS drives and, by the end of the year, solid-state disk drives.
The company name comes from the Italian word for "to have or to own," referring to the fact that the FXT appliances "take ownership" of the data between application servers/clients and a user's existing NAS filers. Avere's software and Tiered File System "maps on a block-by-block basis which media tier data should be on, based on application access patterns, in order to minimize latency," explains Ron Bianchini, Avere's CEO. (Most of Avere's executive management team, including Bianchini, were formerly with Spinnaker Networks, which was acquired by NetApp.)
The software dynamically moves data to the most appropriate storage tier, depending on access frequency, which the company refers to as "Demand-Driven Storage." Least frequently accessed data is stored on the NAS file server's storage devices, typically SATA drives. As such, performance and capacity can be scaled independently. In addition to access frequency, data is placed on optimal tiers based on the I/O workload type (e.g., small file random access, random reads, sequential reads, random/sequential writes, etc.)
The FXT appliances can be clustered, with up to 25 nodes per cluster. Protocol support includes NFS and CIFS on the client side and NFS on the backend storage side, and the appliances can be configured with 1GbE and/or 10GbE interfaces.
Two models are available, both of which have 64GB of DRAM and 1GB of NVRAM. The FXT 2300 has 1.2TB of internal SAS capacity, and the FXT 2500 has 3.6TB of SAS capacity. Both models come in a 2U form factor. Customers will be able to configure the systems with SSD drives by the end of the year.
In terms of performance, Avere cites 90,000 ops/sec (single node, ptar benchmark), 49,000 ops/sec (single node, SPEsfs97 benchmark), 23,000 ops/sec (single node, SPECsfs08), and throughput of 500MBps on reads and 350MBps on writes (single-node aggregate throughput).
Pricing for the systems starts at $52,000.