Infortrend takes aim at enterprise storage market

Company's SanWatch 2.0 software runs on a PowerPC processor within the storage device, taking a load off the main server

Infortrend Technology will show prototypes of new storage products for the enterprise at the Cebit trade show in Hanover this week.

It will show two ranges of Virtualized Scale-out Architecture (VSA) devices: the F series with Fibre Channel interfaces, due for launch early in the third quarter, and the E series, with iSCSI interfaces, due later that quarter.

[ In more news from Cebit, California governor Schwarzenegger advised attendees this week to be optimistic and find new ways to stimulate the economy and Intel's CEO recently called on companies to invest in the future as a way to combat an economic recession. ]

They will ship with a new version of Infortrend's management software, Sanwatch 2.0, with the same management interface as the company's other products. However, the new ranges will also include one of two software packages: Disaster Recovery Suite, offering mirroring, snapshotting and synchronous or asynchronous replication functions, or Virtualization Suite, enabling pooling of storage and the creation of virtual volumes through thin provisioning.

A key feature of the SanWatch software is that it runs on a PowerPC processor within the storage device, taking a load off the main server, said Jon Ashley, the company's director of marketing communications for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The software was developed entirely in-house and represents a year's work by around 200 engineers, he said.

Infortrend's interest in the enterprise market marks a change of direction for the company. Until now, it has competed with the likes of LSI and Xyratex, targeting small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) with storage products such as its EonStor range, Ashley said. Infortrend will also show a new EonStor product at Cebit, the G6, with an 8Gbps Fibre Channel host interface, he said.

The VSA products also herald another change for Infortrend: They will ship with disks already installed. The company's previous products have shipped without disks, giving customers the freedom to choose their own -- but also leaving them with the task of installing and testing them. Infortrend will burn in the disk drives in the VSA devices for at least than 24 hours, a move it expects will reduce unscheduled downtime within the first six months following deployment, cutting costs for customers.

The disks will come from two global disk manufacturers, said Ashley, but he wouldn't name them yet.

There will be four Fibre Channel models: the F20, F40, F60, and F65. Infortrend is still finalizing details of their capabilities and the disk capacities they will ship with.

"The controller design is slightly different from one model to another, so input-output performance can be slightly higher on the higher end models," said Alex Young, Infortrend's director of technology for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The top-of-the-range F65 will have an 8Gbps Fibre Channel host interface, 8GB of cache and on the drive side two Fibre Channel interfaces allowing the connection of up to 112 drives. It could be sold with a chassis of 16 drives, he said.

The two iSCSI models, the E20 and E60, will arrive around the middle of the third quarter, Young said. While mainstream iSCSI interfaces today operate at 1Gbps, "We will do 1Gbps and 10Gbps," he said. "We assume people will go for 10Gbps."

It's too early to put a price on the new products, Ashley said, but it will be low: "We need to make sure we are more competitive than our competitors."

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