• United States
by Brendon Howe, special to Network World

ARS optimizes delivery of data

Apr 26, 20044 mins

Enterprise file storage generally consists of a mix of direct-attached storage, network-attached storage and storage-area network resource islands that are individually managed and presented. Storage capacity across islands is often unbalanced; and adding, consolidating or balancing resources is a manual process that requires client reconfiguration. This causes disruption to data access. Adaptive Resource Switching solves these problems.

ARS gathers files from heterogeneous storage resources and file servers into a virtualized data pool so the files can be managed more easily. The technology lets corporations increase the utilization of storage resources and easily adapt them to meet changing user and application demands.

ARS interprets and maintains the state of file data (metadata) as it processes the data flow from client to storage device or server. It then applies this metadata knowledge, in conjunction with back-end storage resources, to deliver the data to applications more efficiently.

Implemented in a specialized switch, ARS offers the throughput and latency characteristics of a regular network switch while maintaining the metadata characteristics and the data management of a sophisticated file system. It can scale corporatewide by interconnecting multiple ARS devices over a network.

ARS uses TCP/IP and communicates with client applications and back-end storage infrastructure through Windows and Unix file access protocols. Consequently, it can support heterogeneous storage systems to maintain storage infrastructure.

The technology solves problems in three aspects of storage: client presentation, data distribution and storage management.

Once installed into a network, ARS inventories the file systems connected to it as the user configures. It then exports the data inventory profile to the clients in the way Unix and Windows systems are accustomed to, irrespective of the back-end file systems, with no change in security and authentication methods.

An export function provides configurable client presentation in a mount point, or directory from which you access information that is stored on a local or remote disk resource. ARS provides significant flexibility in client presentation, letting administrators configure mounts for each system all the way through to one, enterprise-wide mount point for all storage systems. By independently managing the client access export, ARS eliminates the need to reconfigure clients during storage provisioning; adds, moves and changes are done without disruption to the client.

The data distribution services of ARS place data across a corporation to improve performance by locating data closer to where it is needed. ARS monitors performance characteristics and automatically triggers data to be replicated or migrated closer to an application when performance thresholds are encountered. It intelligently moves data without access disruption or client mount point changes and ensures write consistency across all locations.

ARS uses a network to automatically replicate data sets off-site to provide more-efficient data recovery mechanisms. In the event of a failure, replicated data sets are quickly accessible to client applications using the same access configurations managed by the presentation services.

ARS storage management services aggregate the physical storage resources connected to a switch and automatically export the total capacity to the client export service. The technology adaptively manages the aggregated file systems individually by controlling data placement (file writes) and access (reads) without affecting the client presentation services. For example, files/directories migrate from a resource with limited free space to one with more free space without disrupting applications. Storage classes are defined to economically manage data in relation to its value to an organization, significantly improving utilization by freeing capacity within existing systems.

ARS lets corporations globally manage unstructured data while reducing server and storage infrastructure needed to support applications. This new storage switching technology’s standards-based approach works across heterogeneous systems, letting corporations better utilize current systems while transforming their data centers into on-demand resources, yielding significant infrastructure cost savings in the process.

Howe is vice president of marketing and business development for Acopia Networks. He can be reached at