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Emulex acquisition could cloud future of FC-SATA spec

New Emulex subsidiary Sierra Logic's strength is in FC-SATA bridging technology. Meanwhile, ONStor launches midrange clustered NAS, and Quantum shareholders withhold votes.

Weekly compilation of storage news:

Emulex to acquire Sierra Logic
Emulex Corp. said it will acquire ASIC and firmware components maker Sierra Logic Inc. for $180 million in cash, assumed debt and stock.

Sierra Logic's embedded bridges and routers enable integration of low-cost Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives into Fibre Channel (FC) systems. Sierra Logic OEMs include Engenio, Hitachi Ltd., Network Appliance Inc., NEC Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Xyratex -- its market share in FC-SATA bridging is estimated at 85%, Emulex said.

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Meanwhile, Emulex had been spearheading an effort through the T11 standards committee to develop FC-SATA tunneling, so that the bridging technology made by Sierra Logic would not be necessary.

"We believe that both approaches address the need to utilize low-cost, high-capacity SATA disk drives while leveraging the Fibre Channel infrastructure within enterprise storage systems," according to Mike Smith, vice president of worldwide marketing for Emulex.

Analysts said they aren't so sure. "It may not be going well for that spec," said Arun Taneja, founder and analyst of the Taneja Group, a Hopkinton, Mass.-based consulting firm.

With other industry standards, five or more big players in the market tend to lead to better adoption of standards, said Taneja, adding that Emulex has only one real competitor in QLogic.

"The problem is there are only two players in that market," Taneja said. "And they hate each other. Why should QLogic ever do something that makes Emulex look good?"

OnStor launches midrange clustered NAS
ONStor has added SATA disk to its clustered Bobcat gateways and has included it in a new product called Pantera, said to offer a self-contained clustered NAS system for a fraction of the price of high-end NAS clusters such as Isilon. Entry-level pricing starts at less than $40,000 for a configuration with 6 terabytes (TB) of storage. A Pantera system with 12 TB of storage and failover features is available for less than $100,000. The product also includes software for clustering file systems using the CIFS protocol, the NFS protocol, and virtual servers. The new product line includes four models split up by performance levels: the 2220, with 10,000 I/O per second performance; the 2240, with 18,000 I/O per second performance; the 2260, with 32,000 I/O per second performance; and the 2280, with 36,000 I/O per second perfomance.

"It's really not an SMB or low-end play," said Greg Schulz, analyst with the StorageIO group. "But it does offer some simplicity for the buyer by including disk with the gateway from one vendor."

Quantum shareholders register protest
In an annual meeting for Quantum on Monday that lasted just 22 minutes, 20% of the storage company's shareholders reportedly withheld their votes of approval for the company's board of directors, amounting to a vote of no confidence. The shareholders' ire is said to stem in part from the $770 million acquisition of Advanced Digital Information Corp., in May, which was done without shareholder approval. Quantum also reported a loss of $42 million on sales of $834 million for the last fiscal year ending March 31. Sales in the quarter ended June 30 dropped 10% to $187 million, a loss of $3.6 million.

McData sharpens ESCON-FICON migration tools
McData Corp., announced an update to the firmware for its Intrepid FICON Converter, a product that attaches ESCON peripherals directly to FICON channels for data migration between systems. Sun Microsystems Inc., also announced the update to the product, which it OEMs as part of a data migration service offering.

In a separate announcement, McData reported results for the second quarter of 2006, which showed net revenues of $150.1 million, compared to $168.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2006 and $165.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2005, a net loss of $20.5 million.

Sun condenses service offerings
Continuing to combine its storage assets into fewer product offerings, Sun Microsystems Inc., said it has integrated StorageTek's TekCare support program into the SunSpectrum support portfolio, now renamed Sun StorageTek Service Plans.

The service plans will now consist of the four levels originally named by SunSpectrum -- Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The Platinum service level is the equivalent of the former STK Elite plan, which includes around-the-clock phone support every day of the year and a two-hour on-site service level agreement (SLA). The Gold level is a new level that includes eight-hours-per-day phone support seven days a week and a four-hour on-site SLA; the Silver level is the equivalent of the TekCare Select, with 8x5 phone support and a four-hour on-site SLA; and the Bronze level, which includes replacement parts but no tech support, is the equivalent of "TekCare Interactive."

"What we do with the storage services was an area StorageTek customers were very much concerned about," said Kitty Kelly, the product marketing director of storage services for Sun. Kelly said that the services staff was "one of the least affected areas" of Sun's recent downsizing.

Speaking of downsizing, it was also announced this week that Mark Canepa, one of the first execs to leave Sun post-STK merger, has been appointed CEO of Extreme Networks Inc. Canepa was vice president of the storage division at Sun. He replaces Gordon Stitt, who is chairman of Extreme's board.

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