How do you see high-performance NAS technology changing, and how do you expect these changes to affect client demand
into the future?
High-performance NAS typically breaks down into two general types of solutions. One is a clustered, file system-based NAS where the client might use lower-cost infrastructure hardware and then offset it with advanced manageability or advanced file system features to bring down costs. The other type is hardware-based, ASIC-driven technology. Each has its own pros and cons and challenges, but I'm seeing the technologies used for low-end high-performance NAS merging with the hardware-based approaches -- such as Blue Arc NAS hardware with a Red Hat Global File System (formerly Sistina Software). If that convergence continues, we'll see massive changes in NAS technology.
The issue today is that clients are demanding features and functionality that require high-performance NAS over more traditional NAS. I think there's a major shift taking place where clients are asking for capabilities that will demand more CPU utilization and more dedicated hardware, and this is driving the development of stronger NAS devices which will be more manageable and cost-competitive. The most important capability that I expect to see is inline data deduplication at the high-performance NAS device itself. Clients can achieve that today out-of-band, but it should become available in-band in the very near future.