F5 Networks announced additions to its ARX line of file virtualization appliances today, including integration with cloud storage platforms and the introduction of the iControl file services API. F5 also previewed a virtual appliance– dubbed ARX Virtual Edition (VE) – that will be delivered in the next quarter.

F5’s ARX Cloud Extender (CE) software extends the automated storage tiering functionality of ARX appliances into cloud storage, which provides an additional storage tier and frees up capacity on existing NAS filers. Files stored in the cloud (private or public) are presented as if they reside in the local data center. ARX CE is currently qualified with third-party, object-based cloud storage platforms such as Amazon’s S3, Iron Mountain’s Virtual File Store (VFS) and NetApp’s StorageGRID. Support for other cloud storage services platforms is under development.

In addition to cloud storage platforms, the cloud extender supports NAS and content-addressable storage (CAS) systems in a tiered hierarchy.

F5 plans to ship the ARX CE software by the end of this month.

The company also introduced the iControl file services API, which gives customers direct acess to the ARX file virtualization appliances. (The iControl API is also available with F5’s BIG-IP application delivery controllers.)

“The iControl API will initially open up the change notification aspect of the ARX switches,” says Nigel Burmeister, F5’s director of product marketing, although the company plans to open up more functionality over time. The API allows for registration of file/directory-level changes, removes the requirement for integration with each NAS system, and can be integrated with applications such as classification, chargeback, auditing, search/index, quota, replication and backup.

F5 also previewed ARX Virtual Edition (VE) for VMware today, which runs as a guest virtual machine (VM) rather than a physical appliance. ARX VE is targeted primarily at F5’s OEM partners and remote offices, and will be available in the first quarter of 2011.

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