Sanbolic Readies Shared File System

By Dave Simpson

Startup Sanbolic Inc. has begun beta shipments of a shared, journaling file system designed specifically for storage networks. The Melio FS can be applied to storage area network (SAN) environments, as well as network-attached storage (NAS) or combination SAN-NAS environments. Production shipments are expected before the end of the year.

The software will support heterogeneous operating systems, initially including Windows NT/2000, Linux, and Solaris (SPARC and Intel). Other Unix variants are scheduled for future releases.

For end users, the potential benefits of a shared file system, according to Sanbolic CEO Momchil Michailov, include:

- Enhanced storage network security (NT/2000 and Unix)

- Reduced administration costs (because administrators only have to manage one file system).

- Better disk space utilization. Michailov says that with direct-attached storage, disk space utilization is often less than 40 percent. Although SANs can increase that to 55 percent to 60 percent, Michailov claims that a shared file system could increase disk space utilization to 95 percent.

Melio FS is expected to compete with shared file systems from Veritas Software and startup Sistina Software, www.sistina.com.

How it Works

A shared file system such as Melio FS eliminates the need for administrators to divvy up storage (via LUN masking, virtualization, or other techniques) to accommodate different operating systems and file systems in heterogeneous server environments. A shared file system allows multiple users to access files on storage volumes as if they were their own (i.e., local). A locking mechanism allows multiple hosts to access the same file simultaneously. (In contrast, a traditional file system is based on a single-host model in which one operating system can access one storage volume at a time.)

In the case of the Melio FS, metadata is contained within the file system on the storage device. No metadata transfers are necessary, which eliminates a potential single point of failure found in some other approaches. The Melio FS transfers the bulk of data traffic through a high-speed direct link (such as Fibre Channel) to the storage; only command and control information is transferred over the primary TCP/IP network.

This article was originally published on August 29, 2001