Software turns PC servers into NAS

By Lisa Coleman

One-year-old San Francisco-based Mountain View Data (MVD) has created a software kit that allows OEMs to turn a standard PC server into a network-attached storage (NAS) appliance that supports Windows, Unix, and Macintosh files in addition to offering high-end features such as snapshots.

MVD has a marketing agreement with IBM, which recently validated the start-up's MVD Powered NAS 1.0 software on its xSeries servers. IBM and MVD are promoting each other's products, and IBM's authorized resellers are now offering the MVD software.

MVD is also negotiating with other OEMs and expects to ship its software bundled with other PC servers this summer.

The MVD software works with Intel-based hardware architectures using a streamlined operating system and a suite of software products for high availability. Servers equipped with the software will have features such as a journaling file system, Web-based management console, online file system re-sizing, multi-protocol support, MVD Snap for up to 225 snapshots, and NDMP backup support.

Later this year, MVD plans to add synchronization for continuous replication/synchronization over LAN, MAN, and WAN environments. It also plans to introduce virtualization for NAS aggregation and is working on adding storage area network (SAN) capabilities to the NAS back-end.

"Our business model is creating network storage software and partnering with OEMs that bundle our software with their hardware," says Cliff Miller, founder, president, and CEO of MVD. (Miller also founded Turbo Linux, which he left to start MVD.)

MVD's flagship product is the NAS software kit. However, the company is not competing directly with high-end NAS vendors such as Network Appliance and EMC, although it is offering high-end features such as snapshots. Miller believes that MVD software bundled with PC servers will be more affordable than high-end NAS devices. However, he declined to discuss pricing, which is at the discretion of the OEM or reseller.

Although Microsoft's Server Appliance Kit (SAK) is being used by many OEMs such as Dell and Maxtor to create NAS devices, MVD does not consider the Microsoft SAK to be a competitor. "We look at Microsoft's SAK as low end because it's essentially just Windows 2000 with some things stripped out of it," Miller contends. "For example, it doesn't work well with Unix, which is essential for many IT departments."

This article was originally published on January 23, 2002