QLogic's Mt. Rainier Unites SANs with Server SSDs

Posted on September 07, 2012 By Pedro Hernandez

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QLogic today unveiled Mt. Rainier, new host bus adapter (HBA) tech that that the company says will bring the performance benefits of server SSD caching to SANs, minus many of the storage management roadblocks associated with flash acceleration.

What kind of roadblocks? Drivers, caching software and the hoops storage administrators have to jump through to get them to work in concert with their SSDs, says Shishir Shah, senior vice president and general manager of QLogic's Storage Solutions Group. "Current caching solutions require separate device drivers for SAN HBAs, SSD cards, and additional caching filter drivers and software," said Shah in remarks prepared for the press.

The goal of QLogic's latest project is to connect server SSD resources with SANs, potentially broadening the appeal of the speedy data storage and retrieval technology among enterprises.

"Mt. Rainier is flexible technology that seamlessly combines the benefits of server-based SSD caching with SAN-based storage using a standard QLogic driver," states Shah. "We've created a shared SAN resource model for industry-standard SSDs in the server that leverages existing SAN storage and infrastructure."

Mt. Rainier uses only one QLogic driver per OS, eliminating much of management overhead of maintaining separate drivers for adapters, SSD cards and caching. It's particularly beneficial in managing servers that run multiple virtual machines and clustered apps, says QLogic.

Instead of treating an SSD within a server as direct-attached storage, where the data stored therein is only accessible by a given server, QLogic's tech establishes a shared SSD caching model. This storage pooling strategy opens up the performance enhancing benefits of flash storage to multi-server environments hosting clustered applications and virtual machines.

The technology also offloads caching and SSD data management from the server and onto the adapter, freeing up computing resources and resulting in an OS and application agnostic SSD caching platform. In keeping with the 'flexibility' theme, Mt. Rainier also allows storage administrators to mix and match their flash storage resources, including PCIe flash cards and SAS SSDs.

Finally, Mt. Rainier also enhances data protection for business critical applications. To assure high availability and prevent against data loss, it supports "synchronous peer-to-peer mirroring across two Mt. Rainier adapters," informs QLogic.

QLogic's Mt. Rainier will first hit the market as a traditional SAN HBA that supports Fibre Channel (FC). The company plans to follow it up with 10GbE, iSCSI and FCoE support sometime in the future.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.


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