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LSI Syncro pools shared server storage

The LSI Syncro platform includes a boot appliance that adds reliability and availability to server farms in storage clouds and large data centers.

LSI Corp. today introduced its Syncro platform of shared server storage devices, beginning with an appliance that handles server boot functions in storage clouds and another that provides high availability for direct-attached storage.

The LSI Syncro MX-B Rack Boot Appliance and Syncro CS direct-attached storage (DAS) controllers are based on LSI's MegaRAID data protection software. The boot appliance is generally available, with the CS product due in mid-2013.

The Syncro MX-B Rack Boot Appliance can improve the availability of a storage cloud and large data center by increasing the reliability of its boot servers. The appliance provides a unique boot image for each attached server, simplifying management and saving power. The 1U appliance is available with 24 or 48 ports, allowing it to create 48 volumes each allocated individually to a server. It delivers boot images on RAID volumes with hot-swappable hard drives, and each appliance has redundant fans and power. A starter kit includes two servers.

The idea is to share drives to reduce server failure rates and the maintenance costs that can add up in large cloud environments and mega data centers. LSI claims the boot appliance can double the availability of boot drives, which often use low-cost Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disks and have high failure rates.

"It provides a high level of reliability because now the boot process is consolidated," said Dan Iacono, IDC's research director for solid-state drives (SSDs), tiering and cloud storage. "All servers share the appliance and the applications. This provides redundancy, so if a drive fails the other drives pick up the workload. Administrators don't have to swap out the drive at the server level. It's a higher level of reliability at a lower cost point than having individual boot drives per servers."

LSI Syncro CS controllers let small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and departments share direct-attached storage across servers. The Syncro CS device uses two MegaRAID cards so two servers can pool DAS in a JBOD system instead of building a storage area network (SAN).

Syncro CS supports MegaRAID Storage Manager and Microsoft Failover Cluster Manager for shared storage. The two Syncro CS controllers have write caches and hold the same data to maintain cache coherency. If one fails, it fails over to the other. Syncro CS requires Windows Server 2012 Failover Cluster, but Linux support is on the roadmap.

"The innovation is you can have multiple controllers sharing a JBOD," Iacono said. "It's a clever way to scale out DAS. Companies can cluster a database that normally needs a SAN for shared storage."

LSI plans to roll out Syncro products that support SSDs by incorporating its Nytro acceleration technology.

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