StorageX and NFS – A Short History

As the senior software architect at Data Dynamics, over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great team of developers on the next iteration of StorageX platform. This has been a really fun time for me, and a bit of a “homecoming” experience, as I was one of the original developers of StorageX back in the day (the early 2000s) at a company called NuView here in Houston.

A little bit of background…

For folks who may be new to StorageX, I wanted to give you a bit of background on how things used to be with StorageX and where we are today.

NuView, an enterprise software company based out of Houston, developed the original StorageX platform in early 2001 or so. The StorageX/NuView customer base grew rapidly, and NuView was eventually acquired by Brocade in 2006.

StorageX went on to become a key component in Brocade’s Files portfolio, and Brocade continued to successfully grow the StorageX customer base. However, based on some strategic business considerations, Brocade decided to sunset the StorageX product suite in 2010. Despite the product sunset announcement from Brocade, StorageX customers continued to use StorageX. Based on feedback from a long list of “raving fan” StorageX customers, Data Dynamics acquired the rights to the StorageX product from Brocade and resumed development of StorageX in 2012, which is when I came back “home” to StorageX.

StorageX and DFS…

As StorageX customers who have been with us for the last ten years or so know, the original focus of StorageX was bigger, better DFS management for Windows servers. This was back in 2001, when the DFS management tools provided by Microsoft were, to put it politely, a bit lacking. Since a DFS link can target multiple shares, keeping the data on those shares in sync is critical. Unfortunately, the replication tool Microsoft provided at the time lacked several key features enterprise customers needed, including scheduling and reporting, so shortly after we released the StorageX 1.0 DFS management console, we added replication and disaster recovery policies to StorageX.

Adding replication and migration policies and NFS support to StorageX…

Since we quickly realized that the market for policy-based storage management was much bigger than just Microsoft DFS, we created a StorageX replication agent that could replicate, or migrate, both CIFS and NFS file data. We knew that many storage administrators who focus primarily on NFS data would prefer to use a native replication application, so we wrote the StorageX replication agent in portable C++ and we shipped it as both a Windows service and a UNIX/Linux daemon, and we originally supported Solaris/SPARC and RHEL/x86.

Brocade focus and NFS support…

After Brocade acquired StorageX, Brocade changed the focus of the StorageX development team to developing a management application for a file routing device that was under development by another group at Brocade. Because of this change, some of the core features of StorageX did not always receive the care and feeding needed.

Unfortunately, one of the StorageX features that suffered was NFS. Brocade’s nascent file routing device did not support NFS, so little work was done to maintain NFS support in StorageX.

Data Dynamics and renewed focus on NFS support…

When the Data Dynamics team resumed working on StorageX in 2012, we found several issues in the StorageX NFS stack, which we fixed immediately. Our QA engineers have tested NFS migrations extensively using both the Windows agent and the Linux agent (we no longer support running our replication agent on Solaris), and as the senior architect who was heavily involved in this work, I just want to make sure our StorageX customers know that we have a strong commitment to NFS support and are comfortable recommending that customers use StorageX to migrate their NFS data.

How StorageX helps with NFS migrations…

Using StorageX for NFS data migrations helps in the following ways:

  • You can quickly configure NFS migration policies using a wizard in our UI that guides you through mapping your sources and destinations.
  • StorageX preserves NFS security and attribute settings when copying data from sources to destinations, and provides several options related to security and attribute settings you can customize to meet your specific needs.
  • You can schedule when you want NFS data migration policies to run, and also specify that you want to receive email notifications when policies complete successfully or if policies completed with errors or were cancelled.
  • After the initial baseline copy, continuous incremental copies ensure any new, locked, or recently modified files on the source are copied to the destination and also allow you to verify the migration is completing successfully and according to your plan.
  • If you use automount map files, in the final phase StorageX can update all automount map file entries that reference the source location to now reference the new destination location.
  • If you know how to write scripts and create batch files, you can configure policies to run your scripts and batch files during certain parts of the migration, such as before or after replication, as the first action in the initial phase of a policy run, or as the last action in the final phase of a policy run. If you don’t have a lot of experience with creating scripts and batch files, that’s OK, too. StorageX gives you the settings you need to successfully migrate NFS data without using any scripts.

The phased, programmatic approach StorageX provides, with clearly defined migration phases and processes, means you don’t have to spend your time babysitting NFS data migrations, and reduces NFS file data migration timelines and cutover windows.

Give us your feedback on our NFS support… we’d love to hear from you

Returning to work on StorageX and working with our team of seasoned “StorageX veterans,” as well as getting the chance to work with some of the new developer talent that has come on board here in the last year has been a great experience. If you have NFS file data in your environment, give the “new and improved” NFS migration capabilities in StorageX a try – our team would love to hear your feedback.

Paul Place About Paul Place

Paul Place is the senior software architect at Data Dynamics.

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