LSI Introduces New Storage Design for Windows Server 2012 Environments

LSI, a maker of semiconductors and software for data storage systems, rolled out a new architecture that delivers better storage sharing and scaling.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – LSI has introduced a new rackable boot appliance that can control up to 48 servers in direct-attached storage environments.

The Syncro architecture and the Syncro MX-B Rack Boot Appliance were introduced at the Accelerating Innovation Summit that LSI hosted here Nov. 14 and 15.

The high failure rate and extra maintenance issues with traditional boot drives has become an expensive IT problem, LSI said. LSI claims that the Rack Boot Appliance, thanks to use of solid-state processors, can increase reliability by replacing standard server boot drives in data centers.

LSI controller technology is included in the Microsoft System Center management software and supports Windows Server 2012 and the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor for virtualization. Jörg-Thomas Pfenning, general manager of the file server technologies business at Microsoft, said at the Summit that LSI technology delivers more than just high availability storage but what Microsoft calls “continuous availability” in the event that a storage node fails.

“Continuous availability means that [when] something goes wrong, the hardware and software mask that error, and there is no interruption in service,” Pfenning said.

The problem with DAS storage has been that it’s not sharable with other storage volumes, is not scalable and is not fault-tolerant, said Abhi Talwalkar, president and Chief Executive Officer of LSI, in his keynote address.

“What Syncro is doing is addressing these limitations and delivering in a DAS environment [and] enabling it to be readily sharable across servers and applications, readily scalable across hundreds of nodes and delivering a level of fault tolerance that is affordable by everyone,” Talwalkar said.

Storage systems built for high performance and low failure rates are expensive and available only to the largest enterprises with the largest IT budgets, he said, but that the Syncro line can be affordable for small and midsize businesses.

The Syncro appliance was demonstrated at the conference for this reporter by Greg Huff, LSI’s chief technology officer. He showed how a storage volume could be moved from one storage cluster to another in less than a minute using the storage cluster management tool in System Center.

“If you didn’t have the sharing feature that we created with Syncro, you would have actually had to migrate the volumes over the network. It would have taken hours, because you’d have to take the DAS volume off one [storage appliance] and copy it over the network to the other,” Huff said.

LSI demonstrated at AIS how a future implementation of Syncro will utilize NAND flash storage processors from SandForce, a company LSI acquired last January for $322 million. SandForce's NAND flash expertise has become integral in a large chunk of the LSI product line.

The Syncro announcement followed LSI’s introduction in April of the Nytro line of Flash PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect express) cards designed to improve storage and application performance.

The PCIe form factor is a hot trend because it substantially speeds up data storage I/O. Intel introduced PCIe in 2004 as a computer expansion-card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture. It is designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X and AGP standards.
PCIe-based flash storage has the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities of data.

Orders are currently being taken for the new storage devices, with delivery expected next month.