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Thursday, June 14, 2007, 05:00 pm PT (08:00 pm ET)

Apple prepping major Xsan update

Apple Inc. is working on the first major upgrade to its Storage Area Network software in years, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with plans for the software say the company is testing a new release that will bring the pro storage management tool up to speed with features of both Mac OS X Leopard and Tiger, as well as its own share of independent enhancements.

Specifically, the Mac maker hopes to allow Spotlight searches within Xsan and guarantee a seamless experience with Leopard when it launches in October. Many of Leopard Server's new server programs such as iCal Server and Podcast Producer will be recognized out of the box by the update, those people say.

No matter which operating system hosts the service, management through the SAN software should see some simplification. A new management platform will reportedly break down functions into tasks rather than settings, while the initial setup will see optimizations aimed at getting services up and running as quickly as possible. IT administrators will also be able to point one Xsan server to other storage run by a different metadata system, those familiar with the software added.

When questioned about how soon professionals could expect the update, those acquainted with the software were doubtful it would be ready near-term. Enhancements to several essential features are still said to be under development. While this news potentially disheartening for administrators looking eagerly looking to move some or all of their SAN to the new software, the update should inevitably revitalize Apple's dormant server-side business.

The $999 Xsan 1 was originally released in early 2005 and has only seen relatively minor improvements since then. The largest enhancement came in June 2005, when Apple added Tiger compatibility and 64-bit file system support.