SGI Puts High-Performance Features in New NAS

SGI simplifies administrative work in the latest version of its storage line.

NEW YORK—SGI has been making data storage products for about two decades, but officials really havent been able to talk about them much until recently.

Why? Because the CIA, Secret Service, science labs and other whispered-about organizations have largely made up its customer base, and SGI officials will not talk officially about them.

Guess who makes the imaging software and hardware for those reconnaissance satellites that can practically identify a business card from 90 miles up? And who makes colossal storage packages for huge amounts of seismic data? SGI on both counts.

SGI has struggled in recent years—including emerging from bankruptcy in October 2006—but officials said the company continues to have a loyal set of customers that manage to keep it afloat. Being Googles landlord for a few years also brought in a good amount of lease money.

Now the Sunnyvale, Calif., company that makes high-performance computers and software is venturing out with some new products designed for its niche markets: businesses, government and research institutions.

A year ago, SGI—formerly known as Silicon Graphics Inc.—introduced two NAS (network-attached storage) appliances, the InfiniteStorage NAS 4550 and the InfiniteStorage NAS 4050 system.

At the Storage Decisions conference here Sept. 27, SGI unveiled an upgrade of those storage products aimed at a wider business market.

At the heart of the SGI InfiniteStorage NEXIS NAS family is SGIs highly regarded XFS file system—repurposed for NAS appliance simplicity—and SGI InfiniteStorage Appliance Manager, a new graphical-user interface aimed at optimizing storage resources, managing growth and allowing the setup of base NAS configurations in less than 20 minutes, SGI storage marketing manager Don Grabski told eWEEK.

As a result, the new SGI NAS packages are designed for users to start small if necessary and to scale efficiently in capacity, file directory size and performance by providing several base platform options that can support a company with huge data growth, Grabski said.

The new wizard-based GUI used to set up and deploy the system cuts time and effort greatly, he said.

"InfiniteStorage NEXIS NAS packages are designed for areas of enterprise HPC [high-performance computing] that include database transactions, data mining, media rich online social networks, departmental consolidation and vertical market applications including media production, oil and gas exploration, scientific and engineering modeling, business intelligence, satellite and medical imagery," Grabski said.

Customers have said repeatedly that they need better performance and reduced complexity—in configuration and setup—from their NAS solutions, and the InfiniteStorage NEXIS NAS is a direct response to that need, said SGI CEO Bo Ewald.


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"In the performance portion of the enterprise—the revenue-generating side of the business where companies conduct their research and development—we see growing demand for computing and storage solutions that deliver HPC performance and scalability. But customers also want us to make those solutions easier than ever to use. Thats what weve done with SGI InfiniteStorage NEXIS," Ewald said.

Administrators who have traditionally deployed general-purpose, direct-attached storage are seeking more cost-effective and efficient alternatives to store and manage vast amounts of files for a growing set of users, said IDC analyst Brad Nisbet.

"Networked storage solutions like the InfiniteStorage NEXIS NAS, which provides ease of use, multiprotocol file sharing, and greater capacities, performance and scalability over general purpose solutions are helping to reduce the pain associated with managing file-rich environments," Nisbet said.

The SGI InfiniteStorage NEXIS NAS will be available starting in the fourth quarter.


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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...