ONStor, 3PAR team for utility storage

By Ann Silverthorn

—Integrating their products in the field as needed, ONStor and 3PAR heard requests from their common customers for more comprehensive integration. Yesterday, the two vendors announced UtiliCat, a utility-class, unified storage system that handles both file (NAS) and block (SAN) data.

UtiliCat, which will compete with Network Appliance's "unified storage," for example, combines ONStor's Bobcat NAS gateways with 3PAR's InServ storage servers. Users can purchase the combo from either company, or their resellers, and there is a single phone number for support. The two vendors claim that nine customers are already using UtiliCat.

"File-level storage, which previously was primarily in departments, has been moving into the data center," says Jon Toor, ONStor's vice president of marketing. "Distributed storage solutions were most often handled by Windows file servers, while data centers handled all block-level applications, such as databases and Exchange."

Some companies want to consolidate file- and block-based data in scalable, utility-like platforms, according to Toor. He adds that UtiliCat offers scalability without disrupting the storage environment or users. For more capacity, administrators can add to the 3PAR system, which can scale from 2.5TB to 384TB. For increased processing power, administrators can add to the cluster of ONStor NAS gateways.

"We focus on growing the storage pool, rather than horizontally adding storage systems as capacity needs grow," says Craig Nunes, 3PAR's vice president of marketing. He claims that scaling horizontally increases device management issues and fragments data across multiple devices, complicating backups.

With UtiliCat, users can purchase additional capacity when needed, rather than purchasing excess capacity based on forecasts, via 3PAR's thin-provisioning feature. Administrators can provision virtual capacity to select applications or file systems and only commit physical capacity as the applications or file systems require it.

The ONStor and 3PAR devices are self-configuring, according to Geoff Hough, 3PAR's director of product marketing. The 3PAR component handles availability issues, and the ONStor gateways handle how files systems are mapped to storage. "This gives customers the flexibility of presenting file systems of any size, regardless of their true size," says Hough. "It also addresses load balancing, because virtual elements can be moved across the physical elements non-disruptively."

UtiliCat runs block-level data through the block-level portion of the device and file-level through the file-level part of the device. Since block-level data does not travel through the filer, it eliminates a bottleneck and single point of failure.

Pricing ranges from $175,000 for a 2.5TB entry-level configuration to $775,000 for a 72TB utility configuration.

This article was originally published on September 21, 2005