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Dot Hill goes in software direction with Ciprico IP

Dot Hill Systems, which sell storage systems that are rebranded by OEM partners, is entering a new market thanks to intellectual property it acquired from bankrupt vendor Ciprico last September.

Dot Hill today launched what it calls a virtual RAID adapter (VRA), which is basically a software-based host bus adapter for low-end storage systems.

“This is a pure software play, it goes inside Windows or Linux servers,” said Andy Mills, Dot Hill’s VP of marketing and business development. “We’re doing it entirely on the host.”

Development of the product was well under way by Ciprico, which had exclusive rights to license Broadcom’s RAIDCore technology. The RAIDCore VRA software supports Intel servers’ SATA I/O ports and I/O ports on SAS/SATA controllers, and adds RAID functionality without a RAID-on-chip device.

VRA software is aimed at entry level direct attach storage for now, rather the high-end Fibre Channel storage systems.

The product brings Dot Hill a different set of OEM partners. While it now sells storage systems rebranded by NetApp, Hewlett-Packard, Sun and others, VRA software will be sold by server vendors. Mills says he expects an OEM deal with a Tier 1 server vendor by the end of the month. That deal was in the works at Ciprico before Dot Hill picked up its IP.

Mills says Dot Hill plans to eventually add data management and protection features such as snapshots and thin provisioning to the VRA platform. Customers will be able to unlock those features with license keys.

Mills also hinted that Fibre Channel support could be coming down the road, too. “We’re not ready to talk about that yet, but we eventually plan to manage a unified protocol,” he said.

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