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CTERA Networks Announces Advanced Snapshot Capability Enabled by Its New Next3 File System for Linux


Innovative File System Allows Users to Retain Snapshots with Minimal Impact on Available Storage Space and Performance

Petach Tikva, Israel and Palo Alto, Calif. June 8, 2010 – CTERA Networks, an innovator in hybrid cloud storage and data protection, today announced the immediate availability of Next3®, a breakthrough new open source file system for Linux that is fully compatible with the ubiquitous Ext3 file system. Next3 empowers users to create thin volume snapshots, providing the foundation for point-in-time recovery, change auditing and retention of previous file versions. A key component of CTERA’s Cloud-Attached Storage® appliances, the company has contributed Next3 to the open source community, to help drive the proliferation of cost-effective data protection.

Snapshots record the state of the file system at any given moment, creating a point-in-time copy of the data that can be used to restore previous versions of files. Versioning capabilities have been a key goal for storage systems, but until now no solution for Linux offered file-system level snapshots that made efficient use of disk space, stored snapshots reliably and maintained low performance overhead. For the first time, Next3 brings a free, GPL licensed file-system level snapshots solution for Linux users.

CTERA has shipped Next3 in its Cloud-Attached Storage appliances, the C200 and CloudPlug, delivering support for automated snapshot creation and retention policies that allow business users to retain a large number of volume snapshots for data protection and regulatory compliance purposes.

While limited snapshot capability is available on Linux using the Linux Volume Manager (LVM), Next3 offers significant advantages over LVM including:

  • Dynamically provisioned: Next3 does not require pre-allocation of storage space for snapshots, instead allocating space as it is needed. The snapshots are also space efficient, since unchanged data is shared among the file system and its snapshots.
  • Scalable: Next3 adds minimal overhead to Ext3, and can retain large numbers of snapshots without performance degradation.
  • Lightweight: Next3 snapshots can be created and deleted nearly instantly. Cleanup is performed automatically after snapshot deletion, enabling storage space to be quickly reclaimed.
  • Ext3 Compatible: Next3 is fully forward and backward compatible with Ext3. Migrating an existing volume from Ext3 to Next3 is a snap, involving no changes to the on-disk structures; users who wish to revert to Ext3 can do so easily at any time.

“CTERA has what appears to be a well thought out snapshot solution that goes well beyond what users can do with Ext3 environments today. CTERA is bringing high end snapshot capability to SMB storage, and Next3 is a key ingredient in this formula,” said Terri McClure, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “By introducing a simple and elegant snapshot solution for Linux users, Next3 can make effective data protection a reality for any company, regardless of size or budget.”

Next3 was reviewed by experts in the field of storage technology, including Prof. Erez Zadok, director of the File Systems and Storage Lab at Stony Brook University.

“There has been an unmet need for a low-cost, high-performance, fine-grained snapshot solution such as Next3.” said Prof. Zadok. “Many in the storage community would welcome the functionality and performance that Next3 provides, until now mainly available on more expensive and proprietary platforms.”

“Ext3 provided the infrastructure to rapidly develop, test and deploy Next3,” said Amir Goldstein, Next3 development team leader at CTERA Networks. “We will continue to work with the open-source community to extend its functionality and hope to integrate it as a standard component in future versions of the Ext file system.”

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