F5 releases two new storage virtualization appliances

F5 released its first midrange appliance with 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports

F5 Networks today announced the release of two new file virtualization appliances, an entry-level offering and a midrange product that features 10-Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

F5's new entry-level ARX1500 and midrange ARX2500 appliances are both 1U (1.75 in.) in height.

The follow-up to the ARX500, the ARX1500 costs about the same as its predecessor but comes with eight Gigabit Ethernet ports -- up from two ports on the ARX500, according to Renny Shen, F5's product marketing manager. F5 would not disclose specific pricing for the new products, but it said devices start at $30,000 on the low end and go to $200,000 on the high end.

The ARX1500 file virtualization appliance.

"We think it will appeal to a lot of organizations for whom the ARX500 was really too small," Shen said.

Depending on the software license purchased with the ARX1500, the appliance can scale from 1,500 to 3,000 end users, Shen said.

The ARX2500 is designed for higher end file-sharing environments, and comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The ARX2500 file virtualization appliance.

Appliances in the ARX line now range from the ARX VE, which has a single Gigabit Ethernet port and supports up to 500 users, to the ARX4000, a 4U box with 12 Gigabit Ethernet ports and two 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports that can accommodate up to 12,000 users.

Michael Raposa, senior director of infrastructure at video content provider In Demand LLC, said offering 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports on an appliance makes management significantly easier than it is when it's necessary to share traffic over multiple gigabit ports.

In Demand provides the pay-per-view and video-on-demand content that consumers purchase via cable television providers such as Cox, Comcast and Time Warner. The company installed two ARX4000 appliances in front of about 300TB of capacity on NetApp network-attached storage (NAS) arrays. The virtualization appliances have allowed In Demand to create a single domain name space across all 300TB of capacity, so that applications no longer need dedicated logical unit numbers (LUN), but can expand capacity and performance on demand.

Raposa said his company started out two years ago with the ARX4000s sitting in front of several Windows file servers. However, performance wasn't satisfactory, so In Demand used the ARX4000 appliance's data migration capability to move the data from the file servers to the NetApp NAS, a process that took about a month but incurred no downtime.

"It's not every day you can move 300TB and not have any downtime," Raposa said.

All ARX appliances support the industry standard CIFS file system protocol for Windows devices and the NFS protocol for Unix and Linux devices. F5's ARX products are compatible with nearly all NAS devices and file servers. Users who want to add storage capacity to a virtualized file server pool can simply plug an additional NAS or file server into the box in order for it to be aggregated and managed under a single user interface.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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Tags F5 Networksvirtualizationnetwork-attached storageNetworked Storagestoragestorage hardware

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Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
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