iQstor integrates disk arrays, applications software

Posted on March 06, 2002

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By Heidi Biggar

Integrix spin-off iQstor Networks is expected to debut a family of integrated storage systems for mid-tier markets. The devices, which scale from 8TB to 35TB, will reportedly be priced to appeal to organizations with annual revenue of $50 million to $1 billion.

Initial hardware offerings include two iQstor-developed disk systems (R1900 and J1800) and a high-availability SAN-in-a-box (iQSAN). Onto these devices, iQstor has layered its own software, which enable such features as virtualization, replication, snapshot, data backup (via tape), and capacity management (see chart below). Software modules can be purchased on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.

In a market ripe with competition, iQstor believes it will be able to differentiate itself in at least two ways: its ability to provide a complete, one-vendor solution and its ability to price its systems at or below competitive RAID, SAN-in-a-box, and aggregated products from vendors such as LSI Logic, XIOtech, and FalconStor, respectively.

"The storage subsystem is going to be redefined in the future," says Jonathan Kong, iQstor founder, executive vice president, and chief technology officer. "We think that the customer view of storage will be as a single, seamless, automated system--where all you have to do is connect it to your network."

Kong says that by developing its own hardware and software, it not only addresses key issues with both (e.g., inability to set Fibre Channel loop IDs in off-the-shelf JBODs), but also gives it the necessary latitude to position and price products competitively. Pricing has not yet been announced.

The question really isn't whether iQstor can price its system competitively, but whether the market can support yet another vendor, explains Steve Duplessie, senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group, an industry consulting firm, in Milford, MA. "It will be brutally tough," he says. "No one is getting into the hardware RAID business these days, for good reason."

According to a recent storage technology survey conducted by Robert W. Baird, when it comes to hardware, end users tend to favor incumbent over newer technologies, and they look for products with proven service track records.

iQstor says it has a full range of customer services in place for its June product launch. This includes pre-sales custom solution design; installation, integration, and training; and 24x7 remote support.

The company says it plans a series of software enhancements over the next several quarters and will be able to serve data at the block (i.e., SAN) or file (i.e., NAS) level by year-end. An integrated SAN/NAS product is slated for first quarter 2003.


HARDWARE BUILDING BLOCKS

R1800/J1800
--Hardware RAID with all levels
--15 HDDs or SSDs in 3U form factor
--Support for up to 120 drives
--Support for four host connections and two FC-AL disk at loops at 2Gbps speeds
--Centralized administration

iQSAN
--Support for eight host connections and four FC-AL disk loops at 2Gbps speeds
--Support for up to 480 drives
--Enhanced discovery
--Centralized management of other components (e.g., switches and servers)

SOFTWARE SETS

Storage Virtualization Services (SVS)
--LUN mapping and LUN masking
--Volume-management-based

Managed Snapshot Services (MSS)
--Instantaneous, persistent, and writable
--User command or time-triggered

Remote Replication Services (RSS)
--Fibre Channel-based
--Serverless migration among heterogeneous storage systems

Extended Caching Services (ECS)
--Level-2 block cache
--File cache

Intelligent Capacity Management (ICM)
--File-system reporting
--Policy-based LUN expansion

Data Backup Services (DBS)
--Compatible with leading backup applications
--Tape-based

Note: Extended Caching Services will not be available until Q3.


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