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Analysis

Infortrend's green ESVA attacks the storage virtualisation market
Peter Williams By: Peter Williams, Practice Leader - IT Infrastructure Mgmt., Bloor Research
Published: 16th June 2009
Copyright Bloor Research © 2009
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What is different about Infortrend's new Enterprise Scalable Virtualized Architecture (ESVA) SAN storage system? One answer is that Infortrend "doesn't do" complete systems including software—but it just has. It is targeting the high end of the mid-market where it expects to take on the likes of IBM, EMC and HP.

For ten years Infortrend has primarily supplied its fault-tolerant technology to distributors and storage integrators, and has focused especially on performance-optimised redundant RAID (using its own ASICs and firmware). In recent times it has also designed-in greener capabilities.

The five ESVA systems announced today—three for fibre channel (FC) and two for iSCSI SAN protocols—provide much more functionality while maintaining its green theme. The cabinets come populated with disk drives without the user having a say in which (except by selection of the appropriate model) with RAID 5 or 6 supported. Hardware components are hot-swappable and there is smart drive ‘spin-down' to save on power consumption and cooling when not in constant use (i.e. especially over night).

More importantly, the user gets a great deal of functionality to manage the storage SAN built in to the base price. This includes home-grown virtualisation, thin provisioning, distributed load balancing and array-based snapshots and replication—with the company saying it is optimised for tier 1 applications.

Its own software runs on the controllers rather than on a main server, which itself is a performance enhancer for most server systems; only an agent sits on the server while the controllers include processing power and cache memory. For added protection of this, Infortrend has added what it calls Cachesafe data protection; basically this means some non-volatile flash memory is included in the controller to protect the data going into the cache and also reduce battery usage (extending its life from one to three years). The idea is that these systems will be plug-in and go.

Remote mirroring and replication with disaster recovery (DR) are offered for an additional price with a three year support licence. Enterprise operating systems supported include Windows Server 2008, Linux and most of the leading Unixes, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMWare server virtualisation.

To back the systems, to be sold through channel partners, Infortrend is providing its 24x7 global service centre (help desk) and has invested in new pre-sales and marketing personnel to assist partners and customers.

So this is an interesting development. Infortrend will have to work hard to get its message out in what is already quite a crowded marketplace. However, it has the global infrastructure that can achieve this and, based on past experience, its pricing will no doubt be aggressive.

Infortrend is not abandoning any of its existing portfolio under the EONStor and EONStor Plus names (aimed at the low to middle market). The ESVA with drives is positioned further up the food chain—and should keep IBM, HP, EMC, NetApp and the like on their toes.

Note on the systems:

The ESVA F-20, 40 and 60 are the FC offerings. The F-20 uses 4Gb FC and SATA2 3½" for capacity hungry applications and has 16 bays for 112 drives (so, at 1TB, 112TB max capacity). The smaller footprint F-40 supports SAS 2½" and has 12 bays in the main unit, equating to 48 drives x 450GB native. Finally the F-60 supports 8Gb FC and SAS 3½" (and 16 bays for 112 drives) so is aimed at both speed and capacity. Two controllers and two power supplies come as standard.

The two iSCSI models are the E-20 and E-60 which equate in capacity to the F-20 and F-60 respectively but with a maximum of 64 drives.

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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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