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Apple Airs Storage File Server Software

Apple on Monday continued its foray into the enterprise storage market with a new storage area network (SAN) file system tailored to stream video for about $1,000.

Xsan, designed to undercut more costly file systems from the likes of IBM , SGI and VERITAS Software , is a 64-bit cluster file system for Mac OS X that provides computers concurrent file-level read/write access to shared volumes over Fibre Channel .

Xsan is geared to support shared data for video workflow and storage consolidation, and is meant to be used in conjunction with the company's Xserve server and Xserve RAID hardware.

With the software, up to 64 video professionals can simultaneously access a single storage volume that supports multiple high-bandwidth video streams for efficient workflow in video and film editing and motion graphics creation.

At $999, the Cupertino, Calif. company's Xsan is an example of an enterprise product being tailored for cost-conscious businesses who have hefty requirements, but need to satisfy them at a reasonable price to mind the budget.

Pricing software systems such as Xsan under $1,000 is comparable to the strategies of systems vendors such as Dell , IBM and HP , which designed servers for under $1,000.

Apple is hoping to build on that success in the digital graphics and video realm as SAN management is considered and important aspect of making networks operate efficiently.

Tom Goguen, director of server software product marketing at Apple, said the product is a new piece to the storage puzzle for Apple.

"The thing about customer base for video is that they have huge storage needs and huge demands for storage performance," Goguen. "If you want to do HD [high definition] video editing today as part of a workflow so you're not just one person doing it, you need to have a San file system to make that happen. Specifically, a fibre channel-based SAN solution with good, solid fibre channel storage attached to it."

Goguen said Apple believes its Xsan is a compelling offering because it doesn't cost the thousands of dollars that traditional file systems from other storage vendors cost.

Xsan features metadata controller failover and Fibre Channel multipathing to ensure high availability while the software's file-level locking perk allows multiple systems to read and write concurrently to the same volume.

Also, set up, administration and monitoring is built into the Xsan Admin tool which provides volume management, SAN file system configuration and remote monitoring in one application.

Advanced Digital Information Corporation has made its StorNext Management Suite (SNMS) data management software fully interoperable with Xsan, which means that users with an Xsan-hosted SAN can now add UNIX, Windows, or Linux platforms to it and support all the hosts with a common file system.

A beta version of Xsan is available immediately and the finished product will be available in the fall for $999.