What is Microsoft DFS and why is it useful?

We are used to the notion of virtualization in our modern computing infrastructure. Virtual memory has been a fundamental concept in many operating systems for years; virtual disks, virtual machines, and virtual networks are all commonplace in today’s IT environments.

Virtualized access to networked file systems has been available for many years via Microsoft’s Distributed File System (DFS), although few IT shops take advantage of this powerful technology.

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StorageX is fast (baseline copy)

In a previous article, I stated that StorageX is multi-threaded. I also spent quite a bit of time discussing why I consider this fact to be (mostly) irrelevant to the administrator who is using StorageX to perform his file system migrations. What the user of StorageX really wants is for StorageX to do its job as fast as possible: when he is doing a baseline copy, he wants StorageX to fill his network pipe and move the data as quickly as possible, and when he is cutting over to his shiny new NAS hardware, he wants StorageX to do the final incremental copy within his allotted cutover window.

As I mentioned in my previous article, the techniques StorageX uses to fill the network pipe during a baseline copy are very different from those used to find changed files as quickly as possible during an incremental copy. In this article, I will focus on baseline copies.

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StorageX is multi-threaded (and more importantly, it is fast)

On several occasions, I have been asked a question that is straightforward to answer, but where I’m left with an uneasy feeling about why the question was being asked in the first place. For example, about a year ago I was asked, “Is StorageX multi-threaded?”

That’s a seemingly reasonable question, and a correct answer is easy to give: yes.

I suspect the person who asked the question would have been happy with that basic answer. He would have understood it (“yep, they have multiple threads in their program…that’s good, right?”) and he could easily convey the answer to whoever asked it of him. Most likely the question originated with a piece of marketing collateral for a competing product, touting how the product is “multi-threaded so that it scales to the available hardware” or some such seemingly wonderful claim.

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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.

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