Infortrend’s green ESVA attacks the storage virtualisation market

Written By: Peter Williams
Published:
Content Copyright © 2009 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

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 24×7
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.