SGI Gets Back into the Network Storage Race

Fresh out of bankruptcy, the Silicon Valley pioneer resets its course by introducing two new high-end NAS systems for large enterprises.

High-performance computer/server maker SGI, which emerged from five months of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-October, wasted no time in refocusing its agenda on business development by launching two new storage products Oct. 24.

Mountain View, Calif.-based SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics Inc.) introduced two NAS (network-attached storage) appliances, the InfiniteStorage NAS 4550 and the InfiniteStorage NAS 4050 system.

Unlike previous SGI NAS packages, the InfiniteStorage NAS 4550 and NAS 4050 are true appliances customers can put into production within a matter of minutes—as opposed to hours—without sacrificing high-performance capabilities, a company spokesperson said.

The new storage products are aimed at enterprises with high-end storage environments, in which immediate access to large amounts of data is required, the spokesperson said.

The NAS 4550 is designed for performance-driven applications, while the NAS 4050 aims to satisfy high-capacity storage requirements.

Both new offerings will be competing directly against similar products from IBM, HP, BlueArc, NetApp and Sun Microsystems, to name a few market foes.

Typical applications for the two new products include media production, on-line analytical processing, energy exploration, bioengineering, life sciences, government, aerospace, data archiving, eDiscovery and virtually any high-performance computing application that needs file sharing.

In addition, these new SGI NAS systems have virtually no file system size restrictions and scale up to 18 Exabytes, the spokesperson said.

"SGI is a leader in file system storage, and its NAS solutions are scalable and provide extremely high performance," said Tony Asaro, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

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"The markets that they are going after represent over $1 billion in annual revenue with an estimated 30 percent compound annual growth rate. SGI is well-known in these markets, and this latest announcement should bolster its already strong position in this space."

Key features of the new InfiniteStorage packages, according to SGI, are:

  • Scalable design supports large numbers of NFS and CIFS users and large capacity storage
  • Fast setup wizard without the need for professional services
  • Best-of-breed powerful management and diagnostic tools
  • Fully integrated snapshot and remote replication modules
  • Fibre Channel and SATA disk drives with up to 448 drives maximum (for NAS 4050)
  • 8 to 48GB of system memory, 2 to 16GB of array controller cache memory
  • Up to 12 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Powerful management and diagnostic tools
  • Integrated iSCSI target configuration for Windows and Linux initiators

SGI offers two models of InfiniteStorage NAS 4550: NAS 4550 Streaming will work in applications such as media production, data mining, oil and gas research; the NAS 4550 Ultra is aimed at applications such as transaction systems, databases, mixed workloads and multi-user workloads of more than 500 users.

The InfiniteStorage NAS 4050 is also available in two models: a SATA server version and a Maximum Capacity version.

NAS 4050 was designed for applications that are primary read-centric and also requires the most cost-effective storage, the spokesperson said.

Typical applications for this product are archival library, eDiscovery, secondary storage, on-line backup and imaging.

Both NAS 4550 and NAS 4050 use SGIs Altix 450 Server, storage and file system technologies.

SGI is also offering automated management in the new products. The companys InfiniteStorage NAS Manager 3.2 software provides performance, diagnosis and disk utilization monitoring via a Web-based graphical user interface.

Using the newest version of the NAS Manager software, an administrator often can have a network up and running—using one of these new storage packages—within an hour, the spokesperson said.

The NAS Manager software also allows administrators to automatically manage file system quotas as well as have an instant picture of system usage from any workstation.

Pricing and availability

Pricing for the InfiniteStorage NAS 4550 begins at $200,342 for the Streaming model and $238,655 for the Ultra. These base systems include an Altix 450 Server, 48GB RAM, 12 Gigabit Ethernet Ports, high-performance 4GB FC storage controller pair and two Full Disk Enclosures.

An SGI NAS 4050 SATA server starts at $92,000 with one optimized NAS server with one 4Gb FC storage controller pair and one disk expansion tray.

NAS 4050 Maximum Capacity starts at $400,000 with 2 storage controller pair and 80TB of unformatted capacity. Additional capacity and I/O expansion will increase the value of the product.

All products are expected to begin shipping Dec. 4, the spokesperson said.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...