SGI Rediscovers NAS

Pins hopes to new chapter on enterprise storage

October 25, 2006

2 Min Read
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5:40 PM -- Fresh out of Chapter 11, SGI is looking to achieve financial health in large part by selling networked storage appliances. (See SGI Launches 'Traditional' NAS and SGI Exits Chapter 11.)

Not exactly the most original idea, but a marked change in direction for SGI. If SGI is to grow its storage business to 25 percent of its revenues as part of the strategy new CEO Dennis McKenna laid out in July, it will have to broaden its reach. (See SGI's Future: Storage?) That means switching from specialty systems custom-built for large high performance computing shops -- systems that needed lots of upfront tinkering just to get them working like NAS systems made popular by Network Appliance.

"SGI's never concentrated on the enterprise before," says Bret Cox, SGI's director of storage and software marketing. "We've always built science projects; custom boxes for customers who paid us a lot of money for them. Then they spent days and days of tuning and optimizing. Now we're selling appliances that take minutes to set up, so customers can concentrate on their storage instead of getting it to work."

SGI unveiled the first of its new systems today, the NAS 4550 and NAS 4050. In an effort to stay clear of NetApp and EMC in shops concentrating on transactional data, SGI envisions moving into vertical markets such as broadcasting, oil and gas exploration, and engineering, especially with the SATA-only 4050.

To make its systems more enterprise friendly, SGI added replication software from BakBone and iSCSI support. It also has added enhanced NFS support and is working on getting Microsoft and Oracle certification. Cox says support for dual parity 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, SAS, and clustering is coming.SGI also plans to come out with an archiving appliance to compete with EMC Centera and other CAS systems early next year.

Will SGI's plan work? Startups such as BlueArc, Isilon, and OnStor have made inroads with NAS systems aimed at the same markets SGI is chasing. Of course, SGI will have to prove its storage products are remarkably good, or they'll just be remarkably late.

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Isilon Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • ONStor Inc.

  • SGI

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