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6/20/2008
11:02 AM
George Crump
George Crump
Commentary
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Global Name Spacing

In speaking with an IT manager the other day, he was complaining about running out of drive letters and the difficulty that moving away from using drive letters was causing his users. He was looking into Microsoft DFS and was looking for other solutions since he had a mixed environment of Unix and Windows. Global Name Space solutions like those available from Acopia or built into OnStor NAS products are ideal for solving the

In speaking with an IT manager the other day, he was complaining about running out of drive letters and the difficulty that moving away from using drive letters was causing his users. He was looking into Microsoft DFS and was looking for other solutions since he had a mixed environment of Unix and Windows. Global Name Space solutions like those available from Acopia or built into OnStor NAS products are ideal for solving the complexity of managing multiple drive letters or teaching users different paths to servers while supporting multiple protocols like CIFS and NFS.A Global Namespace can deliver a single mount point for the users to access all their data, despite the fact different folders that make up that data are on different NAS heads throughout the enterprise. Think of a Global Namespace the way you would think of a DNS server. With DNS you don't know the IP address of Informationweek.com, but you can type that in and DNS does the rest. A Global Namespace is similar -- you don't have to know the exact path to a file, the meta data is captured and the mounts and pathing are done transparently in the background for you.

This is one of those rare cases where making things easier on the user also makes things easier on you. With a Global Namespace in place you have flexibility similar to virtualization of servers. You can move file systems or folders transparently in the background without having to update users. For example, if you have a new NAS coming online that is more capacity-centric (large SATA drives) as opposed to performance-centric, you could identify infrequently accessed folders and move them to this server without having to interrupt the users day or update their configurations.

A Global File System is one of those advances in storage which will allow IT pro's to spend evenings in an unusual place ... home.

George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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