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Sun, Network Appliance Boost File-Sharing Speed

With rising interest in ramping up the file transfer rates between computers, Network Appliance (NetApp) and Sun Microsystems have embarked on a technical collaboration to accelerate data exchange rates for file-sharing up to 10 gigabytes-per-second.

In their quest to update outdated standards in data exchange, Sun and NetApp will bring Network File System (NFS) , a distributed file system created by Sun that allows users to access files and directories located on remote computers and treat those files and directories as if they were local, up to 10Gb/s with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capabilities.

One of the qualities that makes InfiniBand as fast as it is, RDMA is a network interface card (NIC) feature that lets one computer directly place information into the memory of another.

Computing companies such as Santa Clara, Calif.'s Sun and storage-centric outfits such as Sunnyvale, Calif.'s NetApp have been increasingly recognizing the need for faster interconnects, such as InfiniBand, and methods of transfer to meet increasing demands for faster computers in the future. With such technological advancements, Sun and NetApp hope to help customers protect their existing investment, while moving data center migration to a standards-based computing environment.

"NFS technology was developed and introduced by Sun almost two decades ago. It has since then become an industry standard for network file sharing. RDMA file access is fundamentally important for mission-critical data center environments," said Glenn Weinberg, Director of Software Engineering at Sun Microsystems. "RDMA technology will enable Sun to further accelerate NFS to achieve lightning fast data sharing. We are delighted to be working so closely with Network Appliance on a range of important initiatives."

Sun and NetApp are working with the Internet Engineering Task Force on speeding up NFS, but the collaboration has roots for both companies. Sun currently works with the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) on RDMA for NFSv3, while NetApp works within the DAFS Consortium on the Direct Access File System (DAFS) protocol.

Together, the companies also work within the DAT Collaborative and the Open Group Interconnect Software Consortium on platform-independent APIs for RDMA transports.

For Sun the move highlights its intense focus on high-speed interconnects. A staunch supporter of InfiniBand, which connects networks at 10Gb/s with the help of RDMA, members of the company were on hand at the InfiniBand Trade Association last week to discuss the status of that formative open standard.