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Lori MacVittie

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F5 Friday: The More The Merrier

Heterogeneous storage systems remain one of the more difficult data center components to virtualize. F5 ARX and ARX Cloud Extender continue to broaden support for more systems, making it easier to normalize data storage – even if the data and provider interfaces aren’t.

f5friday-guestpostThis week Don joins us to share the latest news from the F5 Data Solutions Group.


The advent of directory virtualization opened up the ability to intelligently tier storage without a lot of manual intervention. The use of the strategic point of control between consumers of file services and the providers of those services through programmable rules and single-directory architecture made moving files from tier to tier without impacting users a viable option for both the short and long term.

This means that an organization can put in SSD drives for the most frequently utilized and performance-critical files, a tier one high-speed disk or disk/ssd hybrid vendor for the next level of files, and a tier two vendor’s slower solution for the bulk of files maintained in any given enterprise. The most used files go on the fastest, most expensive equipment the organization is willing to purchase, while the bulk of files go on slower but less expensive disk. For most of you, this is nothing new, this is the real benefit of storage tiering.

But unstructured data growth just continues to roll on. Without concern for the fact that many organizations are running on much tighter budgets than they were five years ago, and that those budgets are the status-quo going forward, according to research firm IDC, at an astounding 61% annually. That is a whole lot of data to manage while trying to do all of the other things that IT is responsible for, driving the relevance of storage tiering to the forefront, and making an alternate storage mechanism appealing for companies who have identified the least frequently used data on their traditional NAS storage.

Enter F5 ARX Cloud Extender, the tool that allows your directory virtualization appliance to make use of cloud storage and/or cloud storage gateways. When first released, ARX Cloud Extender was qualified for use with Iron Mountain VFS Cloud Storage, Amazon S3, and NetApp Storage Grid. The programmable API utilized to interface with these vendors was always intended as a tool to expand the offering to provide customers with the most options for their cloud storage needs.


arxfamilyFollowing through on those plans, the F5 Data Solutions Group has been hard at work developing interfaces to an increasing number of cloud storage providers, with the announcement at Interop of EMC Atmos support that allows EMC object storage to be treated like any NAS device in your datacenter. That allows you to move files out to the cloud, where costs are more diffused and the pool of available resources is theoretically unlimited. More flexibility, more extensibility, and still the rules-based engine to move your data around without your manual interference.

So get ARX, choose whatever cloud storage vendor you like, rest assured that ARX secures your data while storing it in the cloud, and don’t worry at all about Web Services APIs or other non-standard file access mechanisms, ARX has you covered. Storage tiering with a breadth of cloud offerings. That makes you more agile, while saving you money. If you already own ARX but haven’t checkout ARX Cloud Extender yet, look into it, another tool to solve unstructured data growth problems will make your life easier, or your options more varied.

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Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.