So long, Xserve. At the end of the day (January 31), you will be leaving the product sales list after serving the Mac community faithfully for nearly nine years. But today Active Storage introduced ActiveSAN, a high-performance metadata controller for Xsan and StorNext networks, intending to pick up where Xserve leaves off -- at least for this specialized function.
Xsan is Apple's version of a storage area network/cluster file system, using high-speed Fibre Channel connections to allow bunches of workstations access to the same pool of data without clogging traditional Ethernet networks. They're widely deployed in video production environments, scientific computing and other spots where enterprises find the need to get lots of bits moved around in a big hurry. A typical Xsan deployment might include terabytes of storage (on Xserve RAID or Promise RAID redundant storage) available to users.
In order to make sure that individual client machines only get access to the stuff they're supposed to (and to guard against two machines writing to the same block at the same time), Xsan requires metadata controllers -- traditionally Xserves or Mac Pros running Mac OS X Server and connected via PCI-based Fibre Channel cards to the SAN. While the Mac Pro is still an option for use as an MDC, the Mac mini server is not (no PCI slot to stash the FC card). Since Xsan is built on the same technology as Quantum's cross-platform StorNext, the Active Storage team was able to create a Linux-based 1U metadata controller with Xsan-friendly setup and a native Mac administration tool.
There's no price or configurations for the system yet, but Active Storage intends to show off ActiveSAN at the NAB 2011 convention in April and start delivery during the second quarter. We can assume that ActiveSAN will take advantage of Active Storage's iPhone app, which monitors RAID systems remotely.
You can see a video demonstrating ActiveSan following the jump.
[hat tip 9to5Mac]