Apple has begun shipping Xsan, its long-promised high-performance Storage Area Network (SAN) file system.

The software - which is suitable for use by enterprises - costs just £699 per client and per server. Through an easy-to-use interface, the software offers scalable, high-speed access to centralized shared data for storage consolidation and workflow.

“Apple’s pro video and IT customers now have an affordable, high performance SAN file system on Mac OS X,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

Xsan is a 64-bit cluster file system for Mac OS X that can be used by companies to consolidate storage resources and provide multiple computers with concurrent file-level read/write access to shared volumes over Fibre Channel.

This means that up to 64 video professionals can simultaneously access a single storage volume that supports multiple high-bandwidth video streams for efficient workflow in video and film editing, broadcast, visual effects and motion graphics creation.

Apple describes the software - which has been certified for use with Motion and Final Cut Pro - as "ideal for demanding professional video workflows as well as storage consolidation for business, government, education and high-performance computing."

Its rich feature-set includes metadata controller failover and Fibre Channel multipathing for high data availability; file-level locking, which allows multiple systems to read and write concurrently to the same volume; and sophisticated volume-management for more efficient use of storage resources.

Setup, administration and monitoring is built into the Xsan administration software which provides volume management, SAN file-system configuration and remote monitoring in one integrated, easy-to-use application. User quotas and access controls allow administrators to restrict storage usage and file access for maximum data security. Since Xsan is interoperable with ADIC’s StorNext File System, it can be used in heterogeneous environments including Windows, Unix and Linux operating system platforms. Xsan is also supported by ADIC’s industry leading data management software, StorNext Management Suite.

Apple has qualified Xsan with Xserve G4, Xserve G5, Power Mac G4, Power Mac G5, Xserve RAID and Apple Fibre Channel PCI-X cards. Xsan requires Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server version 10.3 and costs £699 (including VAT) per client and per server.