Digi-Data Takes Aim at High-End Storage - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Digi-Data Takes Aim at High-End Storage

Digi-Data Corp. hopes to make a splash in the enterprise-class storage market with RAID products that the company says offer performance and scalability for less.

The Columbia, Md.-based company is moving from an OEM model to selling its products through value-added resellers (VARs), in the process taking on big names like IBM , HP , and EMC . The 44-year-old firm has one advantage over start-ups entering a new space: customers aren't likely to have to worry about the company's staying power.

Digi-Data shipped 50,000 tape storage systems from the early 1960s until 1992, when it shifted its focus to RAID storage with its first SCSI RAID controller. To date, the company has shipped more than 5,000 RAID controllers to customers such as Disney, ABC, and FermiLabs.

The company is now shipping its latest STORM enterprise-class RAID storage systems and controllers, which CEO Bill Tomeo says have been in development for 2 1/2 years.

Digi-Data F8 Turbo RAID Controller

Digi-Data F8 Turbo
RAID Controller

The new products include the F8 Turbo RAID Controller, the backbone for all the company's STORM systems. It includes eight fully independent Fibre Channels, eliminating the need for a fabric switch in many instances. It supports up to 2GB of cache and includes a new XOR processor, yielding up to a 50% increase in sequential file performance. A redundant pair of F8 Turbo controllers delivers connectivity, scalability, and performance with 16 independent Fibre Channels, according to the company.

STORM Xtreme offers what Digi-Data claims is the only true "no single point of failure" (NSPF) solution, with scalability up to 120TB in the Fibre Channel configuration and 200TB in the Serial ATA (SATA) version. A new multi-port Serial ATA Disk Enclosure Module lets the system support Digi-Data's NSPF architecture with cost-effective SATA storage. Both Fibre Channel and SATA disk enclosures are supported in a single system.

Digi-Data bills the STORM Xata, another new product, as an "economical, high-capacity storage system for cost-sensitive, near-line applications," and the STORM Xact as a single controller, Fibre Channel-based RAID system designed for workgroups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

STORM XapShot is an F8 Turbo RAID controller-based data replication facility designed for applications such as data mining, video editing, applications testing, data migration, and block level backup. Any of the 2,048 LUNs on a STORM system can be scheduled for replication, supporting the ability to migrate existing data for more effective use of system capacity, translate existing data stored at one RAID level to another RAID level, or create a temporary working copy of data.

Digi-Data has also developed interoperability with Texas Memory Systems' high-performance SanRam-330 solid-state disk. With SanRam configured as a high-speed cache for STORM systems, the combined system can support requirements ranging from cache-intensive OLTP applications to bandwidth-intensive video delivery/acquisition applications, according to the company.

Tomeo says the Digi-Data's new solutions compete with enterprise-class offerings like the HDS' Thunder 9580V, EMC's CLARiiON CX700, and IBM's FAStT 900, offering greater scalability at lower cost. Digi-Data's systems are also easy to install and manage, he adds.

"We decided we were going to prove what a low TCO system is all about," Tomeo says.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst at the Evaluator Group, thinks Digi-Data is onto something.

"Digi-Data has a very capable and scalable storage solution for the mid to upper end of the mid-range," Schulz says. "They are providing flexibility, scalability, and performance that is associated with the upper end of the mid-range market for storage subsystems."

"Digi-Data is part of a growing movement in the storage and storage networking marketplace to simplify and make storage installation easier and faster," Schulz continues. "Storage and storage networks have to become easier to install and manage, including removing complexity. Wherever there is complexity, you have hidden costs."

"Customers, in addition to asking vendors about mean time between failures (MTBF) and mean time to repair (MTTR), should ask about mean time to install (MTTI)," says Schulz. "How simple, how quickly can the solution be installed, integrated, and part of a user's environment?"

In that respect, Tomeo says Digi-Data excels, with a mean time to install of less than two hours.

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