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Open Source NAS with SAN possibly coming

NAS appliance software has been donated to the open source movement with SAN possibilities in the future.

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Xinit , pronounced 'ex init', has produced Openfiler, NAS appliance software, which runs on a Linux, X86 platform and feeds files to Windows and Unix server clients via CIFS, SMB, NFS and WebDAV. It already has disk virtualisation, and the development roadmap is to add SAN capabilities. Then Xinet's existing SharqStor NAS product could become SharqStor SAN, utilising either Fibre Channel or iSCSI connectivity.

Xinet software engineer and developer Mukund Sivasraman explained that, "Openfiler can aggregate all the storage it has locally attached and storage accessed over iSCSI or Fibre Channel or both. It can divide this into (logical)
volumes and allows you to mark individual volumes for export." In other words, Openfiler, accessed via a browser interface, can aggregate local and remote disks into a single logical pool of storage and serve logical volumes carved out of this to server clients.

Users accessing these can have their identity authenticated via reference to an LDAP directory with Kerberos being used also. Local and global group and user quota management is provided together with a multi-level share directory tree, per-volume share creation with full access control list support on a per-share basis.

Asked about NAS head functionality, Sivasraman said, "Openfiler can already be a NAS Head with SAN disks. It needs to do the SAN things directly so clients can see it as an iSCSI target on the network. We are integrating that right now." This means Xinit has, "to make each volume an iSCSI target which server clients could mount." Thus the device becomes a SAN appliance with local or remote FC or iSCSI drives aggregated into iSCSI-addressable logical volumes.

Has Xinit the capability to accomplish this? Sivasraman said, "We have been around for a number of years and have entered the storage market based on what we know we can do." The company supplies a variety of storage products such as its SharqStor line. Xinit is developing its software in a Linux, open source project way with many contributing partners. The SAN capability is expected to be announced around the middle of next year and Xinit is actively looking for ISVs and OEMs to contribute towards hardware compatibility and software interfaces.

The NAS server client support is being extended to legacy Apple Macs and Netware. Openfiler code can be downloaded, in a similar way to Linux itself or Samba, from

Xinit aims to release an enterprise product version of Openfiler. There was no comment available about discussions with SuSE or Red Hat.

Xinit's NAS and SAN appliance development heralds the way for storage ISVs and OEMs addressing the small and medium business market to produce more affordable storage networking products than currently available. It becomes much easier, for example, to combine together an x86 server, RAID array, Linux, Openfiler, HBAs and NICs to produce a quite inexpensive SAN appliance. Whether it will have the reliability of other open source software such as Apache or Samba depends upon the expertise of Xinit and its partners.


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