VA Linux Releases NAS Server

  • Written By: R. Krause
  • Published: September 26 2000

VA Linux Releases NAS Server
R. Krause - September 26, 2000

Event Summary

VA Linux Systems, Inc. recently introduced the VA Linux 9205 NAS system, a 2U (3.5-inch-high) storage appliance that leverages VA's expertise in Open Source software and high-density Linux systems engineering. The VA Linux 9205 NAS is VA's first network-attached storage (NAS) solution, complementing the company's product line, which is the industry's broadest selection of 1U and 2U rackmount Linux servers.

Scalable to 2.1 terabytes in an ultradense 8U form factor, the 9205 NAS provides industry-leading storage density - over 10TB in a standard 42U rack - providing the ideal network file sharing solution for e-businesses in ISP data centers, where space is at a premium. The VA Linux 9205 NAS offers seamless file sharing across multiple platforms - Linux, UNIX, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS - enabling transparent file access in heterogeneous network environments.

Starting at under $29,300 for 180GB of storage, the VA Linux 9205 is the first in a family of NAS solutions from VA Linux Systems. All VA Linux NAS products feature an extensive service and support package - VA's award-winning "Total Linux Coverage (TLC)" for NAS - including one year of unlimited 24x7 technical support and onsite service and three years of comprehensive warranty coverage.

Market Impact

VA Linux is trying to cash in on a confluence of two key trends: the rising popularity of Linux, and the growth of the Network-Attached Storage market. While NAS market leader Network Appliance is focusing on the high-end market with their NetFiler 800 series, VA Linux has chosen to go after the lower-end market.

The NetFiler series currently tops out at over $1 Million; the VA 9205 will go for around $130K (for around 2 TB). If you only look at $/GB, the VA system provides more storage per dollar (we estimate around $65/GB vs. around $85/GB for NetApp planned 12TB system, which is expected in January 2001). Judging systems solely on the $/GB basis is risky, though. The performance comparison is less clear, since there is no single performance standard for NAS systems. However, Network Appliance highlights their SPECsfs and NetBench scores.

By providing a system which supports Linux - primarily, but not exclusively - VA Linux's system will help the NAS market to grow even faster than has been already projected. The lower price tag (under $30K to start) will also make NAS systems reachable for smaller customers.

Other players in the NAS market include EMC, Auspex, Compaq, Procom (which partners with HP), and Quantum (which partners with Dell). We see Auspex competing more against NetApp than against VALinux, although VA literature includes Auspex in a comparison table.

User Recommendations

If your funds are limited, and you're not committed to Network Appliance or one of the other better-known NAS vendors, researching the VA 9205 is worth your time. The features are respectable, the size (2U in a rack) and storage density (10+ TB in a 42U rack) are excellent. Linux-philes (both Linux-only and those with mixed environments containing Linux) will also gravitate to this machine. VA Linux has no published benchmark data, so performance may be an issue.

For those with more money, the Network Appliance NetFiler840 provides high performance, in terms of operations/second and overall response time (as measured by the SPECsfs97 benchmark) and throughput (as measured by NetBench). Unfortunately for those customers wanting the "12TB version", it will not be available until NetApp's software (Data ONTAP) is upgraded, probably in January, 2001. Until then, the upper limit for the 840 is 6 TB.

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