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Emulex launches storage virtualization appliance

Emulex has packaged a chip from its Aarohi acquisition into an appliance that could be a lower cost hardware platform for storage virtualization software products.

Emulex Corp. announced that the intelligent chip it acquired with Aarohi Inc. will be incorporated into a new split-path storage virtualization platform and combined in the channel with software from LSI Logic Corp. subsidiary StoreAge Networking Technologies.

The Model 765 Intelligent Services Platform, which will be available to the channel in April, is a 1U appliance based on the Aarohi intelligent chip to provide hardware acceleration for network-based virtualization software. Model 765 comes with four Fibre Channel ports and is being marketed to OEMs as a platform for virtualization software. With StoreAge, Emulex has struck up a meet-in-the-channel deal that will see the StoreAge SVM (storage virtualization manager) software packaged with the Model 765 by

VARs and integrators to make the Intelligent Services Platform Model 765S.

Emulex claims the storage virtualization appliance is capable of supporting up to 1.2 million IOPS and 1,400 megabytes per second (MBps) of aggregate throughput. The device also supports N_Port connectivity on the platform, which means it can interoperate with any SAN fabric from any switch vendor. The appliance also does not need to be connected to a director or core switch to manage the environment. Instead, a user would plug in two devices to any switch on the SAN: the Model 765 for data path operations and the SVM module on its own server for control-path operations.

"The real claim to fame here is the cost: It's amazingly affordable," said Brian Garrett, technical director of the Enterprise Strategy Group Lab. The Model 765 appliance, according to Taufik Ma, former vice president of marketing and business development for Aarohi and currently vice president of marketing in the intelligent network products division for Emulex, has a suggested retail price of $10,000 per unit, roughly half the cost of hardware for other virtualization products. The cost of software still has to be factored in on top of it, and multiple appliances must be purchased to support multiple data centers.

Ma also emphasized that Model 765 is being shopped to other OEMs and is not exclusively meant to run with StoreAge, which could have wider pricing implications for the market if other OEMs port their virtualization software to it, according to Arun Taneja, founder and analyst with the Taneja Group.

"Many companies, like EMC, originally made split-path virtualization products available only in conjunction with switches from certain vendors," Arun Taneja said. "But I wouldn't be surprised to see a change of direction there, since purpose-built appliances like this one can work with any SAN fabric."

However, according to Rick Villars, vice president of storage system research for IDC, wading in among big storage companies within a market space they are all looking to dominate might be a tricky path for Emulex. "The question is whether storage manufacturers will want this. Emulex has a balancing act here to offer open, flexible options for people, but to recognize that its primary business partners are considering this one of the main battlegrounds in storage."


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