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SAN FRANCISCO—Outside of Apple’s introduction of the iPhone earlier this week, there really weren’t that many breakthrough-type products at the Macworld Conference and Expo, which ended Jan. 12.

But one of the few was a new data storage software system exclusively for Mac OS X produced by a small and relatively unknown software developer and hardware integrator called Storage Elements, of Minneapolis, Minn.

Mythos iSCSI Storage Server is an enterprise-ready hardware-software package designed specifically for Mac OS X servers. President and CEO Brad Wenzel of Storage Elements told eWEEK that this is the industry’s first comprehensive Mac OS X-based iSCSI/FCNAS unified storage server on the market, and a look around the Internet indicates that he might be right.

“This product, launched at the show this week, is the first enterprise-level RAID system developed for the Mac OS,” Wenzel said. “We’ve been working in the field a long time, and we’ve put about six years into building this system.”

The Mythos server provides both file-level access as a NAS (network attached storage) appliance does and block-level access as does a SAN (storage area network) appliance.

The Mythos software has the ability to “speak” both NAS and SAN languages, and due to this, storage administrators can easily get the type of access they need, when they need it.

“General storage clients have access to their data through the TCP/IP network, while ‘power users’ can get to their data through a Fibre Channel network,” Wenzel said.

Click here to read more about iSCSI taking on Fibre Channel.

Mythos runs as a storage appliance supporting the backup and recovery of the data and needs only minimal manual intervention and configuration, Wenzel said.

It is scalable up to 35TB and offers both RAID and LUN (logical unit number) management controls. It also features storage pooling and virtualization over iSCSI, GigE and Fibre Channel connectors, Wenzel said.

Mythos’ Java-based GUI runs on the Mac OS X platform and operates a NAS that shares network disks through (CIFS) Windows, NFS (Mac/Unix/Linux) and AFP (Macintosh) clients, Wenzel said.

Platform agnostic

“This system is completely platform agnostic,” Wenzel said. “You can run it basically anywhere, and it’s easy to set up.”

A Storage Elements staff member demonstrated a recorded recent installation at Macworld. The whole installation of a medium-size system only took about five minutes, since most of the procedure was automated.

“For school districts, this would be ideal,” Wenzel said, “because it’s Mac-operated and can reach out to form a network of hundreds of other platforms. It provisions easily and can back up a large mixed storage array.”

Wenzel also said he had been fielding a number of requests from publication designers and other creative types who needed a serious storage system, because the volume of their work was growing so quickly.

Storage Elements offers a Webex-based training session for all new installations. “It only takes an hour or two at the most,” Wenzel said, “because it’s not that complicated.”

The company also has a hosted storage service called Digitiliti, which is an advanced, secure, agentless online backup service for single and multi-site clients. It offers data reduction technology that reduces the storage requirements of content by several magnitudes, Wenzel said.

“I like to compare this to something people can understand,” Wenzel said. “For example, I just ordered a cord of wood for my home. When they delivered it, I had to direct them where to put it, because it takes up a lot of space in my yard. Wouldn’t it be nice if the wood were broken down into a box of ashes that I could put anywhere I want easily, and then have it reconstructed into the cord of wood when I needed it to be?

“That’s kind of what we do when we reduce, or compress, the data clients give us to backup and archive. We deliver in excess of 20X compression, so we save clients a lot of money,” Wenzel said.

Availability and pricing

Mythos servers are available exclusively through a reseller network, and pricing runs in the $20,000 range for a starter system. Digitiliti pricing runs $8 for the first 100GB of storage per month and $4 per gigabyte over 100 GBs.

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