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Mid-Range Storage From Deep OEM-Land

LSI develops and builds many of the mid-range and enterprise storage systems out there. Now, LSI has introduced a system of their own with new capabilities, and you'll probably see it soon, but with a variety of different labels on the sheet metal.

The Engenio 4900 is a modular, mid-range storage system aimed squarely at the middle of a market stretching from large workgroups to small data centers. With the ability to be equipped with up to eight I/O interfaces, including the four standard 8 Gbit Fibre Channel interfaces and four additional interfaces that can be either 8 Gbit Fibre Channel or 1 Gbit iSCSI, the Engenio 4900 can keep up with significant user data access demand. With up to 112 drives, the system can provide the sort of storage that even smaller enterprises are now demanding.

According to Steve Gardner, director of outbound marketing for LSI, consolidation based on virtualization was a key consideration in the Engenio 4900's design. "Increasing server consolidation, with fewer physical servers/more virtual servers, and more apps, are putting more stress on storage subsystems as multiple tasks are happening at once," he says.
Gardner goes on to say that other types of consolidation are driving a need for LSI, and that many integrators to look for new capabilities in the systems they choose. "Storage consolidation, especially when matched with server consolidation, is a key area. Oracle, Microsoft apps, and similar are the key solutions delivered in conjunction with these storage platforms," he explains.

When asked about the ways in which LSI disk systems are sold to the customers (rather than to the OEM partners who buy the systems from LSI), Gardner says that their OEMs might deliver a pre-packaged solution they bundle with the system, or they might do custom development work for unique systems. LSI is neutral regarding whom they work with. As an example, Gardner explains that the market has forced LSI to spend money and effort on both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization systems, and they think both server and storage virtualization will become much more important in the coming months.

One of the critical factors of storage systems aimed at virtualization deployment is an emphasis on all-around performance. Where certain applications will stress block reads, random seeks, or writing functions, the demands of a variety of different applications accessing the system simultaneously will rely on any or all of these factors at any given time. Gardner says that one of the difficulties in talking to customers about how a system will perform in a virtualized environment is that "there is no industry standard benchmark for this." For companies like LSI, the situation is complicated by the fact that benchmarks of any sort are expensive to run, and LSI's direct customers (the hardware vendors) tend to want to do their own tests, rather than anything from the manufacturer.

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