IBM releases SONAS: Scale-out NAS based on GPFS

IBM has quietly released what appears to be a new product line it dubs "SONAS," short for scale-out NAS. The product seems to be a rebadging of its previous "Scale-out file system" that productises bundles of hardware optimised to use IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS).

IBM appears to have quietly added a new product to its storage range. Dubbed SONAS, short for scale-out NAS, the new product is mentioned in an April 2009 IBM presentation and in announcements of future training courses, but is yet to be the subject of a dedicated press release or other formal announcement.

SearchStorage ANZ was alerted to the new offering by IDEAS International Analyst Chris Ober, who Tweeted about SONAS and wrote it was "announced today."

SearchStorage ANZ has approached IBM for confirmation about the product's status but we are yet to receive a reply.

Research on the web page and documents describing SONAS suggest it uses IBM's General Parallel File System, a product which IBM said in October 2008 it was trying to promote to wider audiences. The product scales through use of what IBM is calling "interface nodes" and "storage pods." Scaling the system seems to requuire little more than adding new nodes or pods. Storage pods, IBM says, "range from 4 to 16 U in size. Each pod can provide reliable storage from 27 to 480 terabytes of data. Storage pods and interface nodes can be combined into one globally clustered scale out NAS system,storing up to 14.4 petabytes of data."

IBM's data sheet for the product says it is intended for use by " ... organizations seeking to better manage their growing demand for file-based storage" and allows them to " ... consolidate data that is scattered in multi-ple storage locations and allows them to be efficiently shared and managed."

The company also says that the SONAS approach is designed to go where clustered NAS cannot, for organizations faced with storing "millions to billions of active files. Such massive numbers of files require separate file systems served by separate servers, and consolidating a hundred or even hundreds of these servers into high-end NAS grows into a difficult and costly challenge." SONAS can apparently tackle this kind of chore with ease, placing all documents in a single namespace.

Other features include integrated information lifecycle management, caching to speed WAN access to files, plus use of network protocols including Common Internet File System(CIFS), Network File System (NFS), Secure Copy Protocol (SCP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol* (HTTP) and FileTransfer Protocol (FTP).

SearchStorage ANZ will update this story with confirmation of the SONAS' product's status as soon as possible.

UPDATE, 9:00 AM FEBRUARY 10

IDEAS International has penned a blog post about the SONAS offering and links to this formal announcement of the product. The announcement offers a wealth of technincal detail about the product.

Meanwhile, Beth Pariseau from SearchStorage USA has pointed out that she wrote a story in October 2009 about products that seem awfully similar to SONAS.

We're yet to hear from IBM with an official position on this product, but it's looking like this is a rebadged, upgraded SoFS/GPFS system with a shiny new coating of SONAS marketing.

UPDATE, 11:00 AM FEBRUARY 10

IBM has confirmed that the SONAS product was launched yesterday, but has said the company did not make a a formal announcement as the company decided not to take the gloss off the launch of its new Power 7 servers.

SearchStorage ANZ has asked IBM to explain the extent to which SONAS differs from the previous SoFS/GPFS products noted in the story above.

UPDATE, FEBRUARY 12th

IBM has officially announced SONAS. Story here.

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