agami expands NAS line

By Ann Silverthorn

—Start-up agami Systems this week extended its line of integrated NAS products with the AIS6000 series, which doubles the capacity (up to 19.2TB with 48 drives) and performance (up to 1GBps read throughput) of the AIS3000 series released last October when the company launched its NAS servers.

John Wernke, agami's vice president of marketing, says that the company plans to go head-to-head with market leaders Network Appliance and EMC. The start-up hopes to compete on price and performance, claiming to be 6x less expensive and nearly 3x as fast as some competing systems.

agami was founded in 2003 when Zambeel ceased operations. agami acquired Zambeel's intellectual property, consisting of software for high-performance clusters and virtual file systems with universal namespace.

agami's 64-bit, quad-CPU NAS systems are based on an SMP/ccNUMA architecture with high-speed (2.4GBps) HyperTransport I/O interfaces and 12GB of memory. HyperTransport links the disk controllers and 12 network ports. The network interface cards (NICs) are routed onto a HyperTransport bus.

"Our NAS systems can read in parallel from all 48 disk drives, move data across a CPU bus, and serve it to all the network controllers in parallel without slowing down," claims Paul Speciale, agami's vice president of product management. "Conversely, read/write requests on the network controllers can move across HyperTransport and write to or read from the 48 drives in parallel."

To keep costs down, agami uses off-the-shelf hardware, including AMD Opteron CPUs and bridges for HyperTransport, 400GB Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives from Western Digital, and Marvel chips for SATA connections.

SATA drives are known for their high capacity, but are generally regarded as less reliable than Fibre Channel drives. agami takes a different approach to spreading spare capacity across the RAID-5 array to increase mean time to data loss (MTDL). It also uses a cable-less design.

Speciale explains: "In a traditional RAID array, one or two drives are spares. If a drive fails, the system has to rebuild all the failed data to the spare drive. As it serializes all the I/O, it becomes a bottleneck. We've spread the spare trunks around the array, so in the event of a failure reconstruction to all the drives occurs concurrently because of our direct I/O architecture to all the drives. We can reconstruct a 400GB drive in about three hours."

The agamiOS includes a virtual file system (agami FS) on top of Linux with no boundaries on file system size. In a future release, it will provide global namespace to scale across multiple boxes. System Management Service monitors all the hardware, lays out the file systems, and allows administrators access through a browser or a command-line interface through SNMP. An integrated file system replication feature (agami FSR) allows file systems to be mirrored over any IP network.

Future enhancements will include support for iSCSI, automated and multi-master replication, and compliance-related backup and search features.

The 5U AIS6000 series, which includes the AIS6112 (up to 12TB) and AIS6119 (up to 19.2TB), supports Windows, Unix, and Linux clients and the NFS and CIFS protocols, as well as backup and restore using NDMP. The AIS6000 series is priced from $62,995.

This article was originally published on March 15, 2006