News | August 9, 2007

Storage Networking: Cambridge University Geography Department Chooses RELDATA To Extend Its Storage Networking Infrastructure


RELDATA, the leader of a new generation of unified storage systems, recently announced that the Geography Department at the University of Cambridge has chosen its unified storage solution as the most cost-effective to extend its storage infrastructure and fulfil future storage demands. The Department chose RELDATA's unified storage gateway for its ability to deliver block-level (application) storage, NAS shared files and sophisticated data replication from a single device. In addition, the RELDATA gateway offers open storage connectivity, which allows the Department to reuse existing storage investments as a part of the new unified storage network and frees it from vendor lock-in for future capacity upgrades.

With research demanding the regular use of files over 100MB in size, the Geography Department has extensive storage demands. Initially the Department had considered installing either an enterprise NAS device or a traditional fibre channel SAN, but after exploring the possibilities, Mike Bithell, the department's assistant director of research in computing, decided that iSCSI technology offered a more flexible and cost-effective alternative.

"iSCSI is extremely practical: it enables us to use our current Ethernet network to provision fast, flexible storage across our existing server infrastructure. We do not need to invest heavily in the hardware and new skills needed for FC SAN, and we are not tied to using machines which we can't afford to connect to the FC network," explains Bithell. "However, while it's fast, the use of the raw iSCSI devices has limitations because the protocol restricts access to a single host machine and requires additional hardware to provide the replication functionality we require to backup datasets."

For this reason Specialist UK academic storage reseller ANS Ltd. provided the Department with a new unified storage system based on a RELDATA 9000 series storage gateway. "RELDATA offers open connectivity to combine new and existing storage resources into a unified system. This allows the Department to reuse existing storage investments and gives them a free choice between array vendors for future capacity upgrades," said Andy Ibbotson, managing director of ANS. "The gateway then uses sophisticated block-level virtualization to provision the attached storage in the format needed as iSCSI SAN, NAS or as a range of backup and replication services."

The Department has started by using the RELDATA device to consolidate new and existing storage into a single pool from which it delivers fast iSCSI storage to an existing Linux file server. For the future, the gateway offers the option to remove load from the file server by provisioning file storage directly using its built-in NAS (NFS and CIFS) functionality. It also provides both block- and filelevel snapshots and block-level replication services to give the department a broad range of options to backup and protect data.

"The RELDATA gateway offers the most cost-effective solution for our current storage management needs," concludes Bithell. "Moreover, the flexibility of the storage management platform it offers us opens our options for developing our storage infrastructure in the future. Usually committing to a particular storage solution restricts your future options; choosing RELDATA has had the opposite effect, adding new flexibility."

RELDATA is the leader of a new generation of open, scalable and reliable unified storage solutions that deliver unrivaled price/performance with concurrent, high-speed, IP SAN and NAS storage services. Its modular architecture lets organizations easily expand both application-based (SAN) and file-based (NAS) storage capacity to meet user demand, seamlessly consolidate underused storage assets and virtualize industry standard storage resources, and ensure data availability with a variety of local and WAN replication and snapshot features. RELDATA products are designed to co-exist with more expensive storage solutions from vendors such as Network Appliance and EMC. RELDATA is headquartered in New Jersey with European offices in Germany and UK. RELDATA products are available worldwide through authorized value-added resellers and system integrators. More information is available at

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