Spinnaker Seeks To Make Network Storage Easier To Manage

Offerings could revive simplicity for network-attached storage users
When a founding principle of a technology is gone, whole markets can change. The network-attached storage market was founded on better file-access performance and simpler administration, compared with general-purpose servers and direct-attached storage. Five years later, NAS simplicity is toast for most customers.

When customers have multiple appliances to manage--and market leaders EMC Corp. and Network Appliance have many customers with dozens of devices--they still have to manage them as single appliances, one by one. Spinnaker Networks Inc. will ship new appliances and software on Monday that could resurrect simplicity for NAS customers.

The Spinnaker SpinServer 3300 system combines a switched Gigabit Ethernet architecture that can connect as many as 512 appliances. But thanks to the Spinnaker SpinFS distributed file system on board, customers can manage multiple 3300 appliances as one entity. So up front, the 3300s will be simple to install and deploy. But as their number grows, they'll also remain simple to administer. This will be the first such clustered NAS with a single view for administration available to businesses.

An industry analyst confirms that the Spinnaker 3300 is the first commercial, distributed NAS. The Yankee Group's Jamie Gruener says that other vendors require customers to manage multiple appliances as single entities. "Spinnaker's NAS system is more integrated than what's been offered before," he says. That could save a company a lot of administration time. The Spinnaker offering is available beginning Oct. 7; pricing starts at $120,000.

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