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BlueArc Aims To Shake Up Storage

Hardware and software are designed to help customers add users, not servers.

Companies invest in network-attached storage primarily for easier file management and quicker access. So they implement appliances that only store and move files, offloading that activity from servers on the network. A small vendor hopes to shake it all up.

BlueArc Corp. on Tuesday will unveil upgraded hardware and new software. The BlueArc Silicon Server does almost everything in hardware instead of software, including the TCP/IP stack that defines network latency; uses ASIC processors for high performance; has plenty of memory; and has dual gigahertz-per-second bandwidth pipes for blowout performance. Competing NAS appliances are based on specialized software that runs on standard servers.

Most important, for the first time, BlueArc will support advanced storage features from silicon, including Virtual Volumes that let customers mask capacity so multiple applications can work with it, plus Snapshot Capability that will let customers copy data while a network is up and running.

The new Si8300, Si8700, and Si8900 range in price from $50,000 to $250,000, and in capacity from 7 terabytes to 240 terabytes. "We'll be similar in price to Network Appliance but offer two to three times the performance," says Jeff Allen, BlueArc's senior VP of marketing and strategy. "We'll deliver scalability now so customers can add users without adding more servers."

Steve Duplessie, Enterprise Storage Group founder and analyst, confirms that kind of performance but says it's only gotten BlueArc into government labs and other sites that require massive amounts of throughput. "They have the software features for the enterprise customers," he says, "but it remains to be seen if they'll seriously impact EMC and Network Appliance."

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