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The new Avere FlashCloud software serves as a file system for object storage. FlashCloud connects traditional NAS with objects from Cleversafe, Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier into a single global namespace. Avere CEO Ron Bianchini said he plans to support other object storage vendors eventually.
By embedding object support into its FXT software, Avere Systems removes the need for a gateway or controller as a translator between applications and object storage. Most legacy applications speak block or file and often need a gateway to work with object storage, which is typically used in cloud infrastructures.
"We had customers running gateways in the front of FXT filers, but now they don't need them," said Rebecca Thompson, Avere's vice president of marketing.
Avere's FXT Edge filer appliances use a combination of dynamic RAM, nonvolatile random access memory, solid-state drives and hard disk drives to accelerate performance of other vendors' NAS nodes. The Avere FXT 4000 series is designed for sequential high-capacity storage requirements, with the FXT 3000 series for random I/O performance.
Avere's FXT filers reside between client workstations and core filers such as EMC Isilon, NetApp and Hitachi NAS to optimize NAS via a global file system.
Avere claims that its Edge devices can offload 98% of the workload from the core NAS systems. The Edge filers handle most of the performance requirements while the core systems handle most of the capacity needs.
"If 50 transactions come from the clients to the Edge filers, then the Edge filers respond to 49 of the 50 transactions," Bianchini said. "So one out of the 50 transactions go to the core systems to get the data."
An increase in public cloud storage interest is prompting companies to take a closer look at object storage, which was initially slow to catch on despite promises of better scalability and manageability. According to an IDC MarketScape report written by analysts Ashish Nadkarni and Amita Potnis, early object platforms "were too cumbersome to deploy and, in some cases, caused a platform lock-in because of their proprietary access mechanisms.
"In spite of their from-the-ground-up design, a departure from how traditional SAN and NAS arrays are deployed, and more importantly a lack of standard interfaces, made it difficult for IT organizations to deploy [object storage] solutions in the infrastructure."
Still, IDC estimates that object storage will account for nearly 37% of the file and object revenue in 2013, and forecasts it will grow to a $21.7 billion market in 2017.