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LSI dives into multiprotocol storage with ONStor acquisition

LSI will add ONStor's NAS to its own Fibre Channel and iSCSI block storage to develop a multiprotocol storage platform; unified storage systems seen as rapidly growing trend.

LSI Corp. acquired network-attached storage (NAS) vendor ONStor Inc. primarily to develop multiprotocol storage systems that handle file and block data, the head of LSI's storage team said.

Phil Bullinger, executive vice president and general manager of LSI's Engenio Storage Group, said LSI will continue to sell ONStor's NAS gateways and systems but is most interested in incorporating its file storage technology into LSI's storage systems. LSI systems currently support Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI for block storage. LSI storage is sold through OEM partnerships with IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., Teradata Corp. and other vendors.

"Our top priority is integrating ONStor technology to our storage systems so we can bring together a truly unified platform, block and file," Bullinger said. "We think the world is headed in the direction of multiprotocol storage. We've been considering getting into the NAS space for several years."

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LSI announced its $25 million acquisition of ONStor July 23, but didn't offer any roadmap details until this week.

Vendors such as EMC Corp. and NetApp sell storage with FC, iSCSI and NAS protocols in the same system. Kaushik Roy, a financial research analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, sees unified systems as a growing trend.

"The trend is to move toward unified systems -- multiprotocol systems serving block [FC, iSCSI] and file. Look at EMC's Celerra NS, it's multiprotocol and growing fast," Roy said. "I believe LSI's OEM customers are asking for systems that support Fibre Channel, iSCSI and NAS protocols."

LSI's biggest storage OEM partner, IBM, also rebrands NetApp FAS storage systems that include FC, iSCSI, and NAS. IBM sells LSI systems as its DS4000 and DS5000 midrange platforms. Dell Inc., an EMC storage partner, also sells LSI entry-level SAS systems.

Bullinger said LSI will continue to sell ONStor products through the ONStor channel. They include its Cougar NAS gateways and Pantera systems consisting of the gateways in front of LSI storage.

One reason LSI acquired ONStor, Bullinger said, is because LSI's internal IT team began using ONStor NAS systems last year and considers the Cougar gateway "a rock-solid enterprise product."

This year, ONStor began selling systems based on the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) developed by Sun Microsystems. Bullinger said LSI may continue with ZFS, but it wasn't a big reason behind the acquisition.


"We didn't buy ONStor for its ZFS project," he said. "We need to get a better read on Oracle/Sun and their take on ZFS, as well as the legal environment [Sun and NetApp are involved in lawsuits over ZFS]. I think ZFS is a great file system, but the file system is just one layer in the overall stack we need to deliver."

Bullinger said ONStor CEO Bob Miller decided not to join LSI, but LSI will retain most of ONStor's engineering, customer support and sales/product management personnel.

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