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Red Hat launches storage appliance for Amazon's cloud

The open-source company wants enterprises to move their network-attached storage to the cloud

Red Hat has announced the Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services (AWS), which can take advantage of Amazon's cloud while at the same time offering excellent performance, the company said on Tuesday.

"Essentially what we are providing is network-attached storage in the cloud," said Tom Trainer, storage product marketing manager at Red Hat.

The Virtual Storage Appliance for AWS is a software implementation on Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and EBS (Elastic Block Storage) that enables a network-attached file server to run directly in the cloud. That, in turn, allows enterprises to move all applications that can use NAS storage into the cloud without any modifications, according to Trainer.

Data is striped across multiple EBS volumes to improve performance, according to Trainer. That reduces latency and helps overcome some of the historic performance issues with Amazon's cloud, he said.

The appliance comes in the shape of an AMI (Amazon Machine Image), and supports NFS and CIFS for Windows access, as well as HTTP and Parallel NFS (pNFS).

Today, it is geared for unstructured file data, including content distribution. The appliance is based on Gluster's virtual storage appliance, a company and product that Red Hat acquired in October last year in order to boost its cloud offerings.

Red Hat has made smaller modifications, including changing CentOS for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, according to Trainer.

Availability is a very important aspect of any storage system, irrespective of if its based in an enterprise's own data center or in the cloud. Red Hat Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services can do synchronous replication in one AWS region and multiple availability zones, according to Trainer.

Availability zones are engineered to be insulated from failures in other zones that are located in the same region.

The appliance can also handle asynchronous replication between different regions, Trainer said.

To build a system with high availability, a user can deploy a number of appliances in different availability zones, and have two copies of the data in the same region. Then the data is also replicated to a different region for disaster recovery.

The appliance costs US$7,500 per node with premium support. In addition to that, enterprises also have to pay for their use of Amazon's cloud.

The AWS launch is just the first step and in the near future Red Hat expects the appliance will also be available in clouds from other providers. But the company isn't ready to divulge which ones, according to John Kreisa, director of storage marketing at Red Hat.

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