Storage Soup

Apr 21 2009   5:27PM GMT

LSI updates Engenio 7900, talks FCoE *Updated*

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

LSI Corp. has updated its Engenio 7900 storage system sold by IBM and others with new support for 8 Gbps FC, boosted capacity, and Seagate’s full-disk encryption  encryption services that include key management and firmware features to take advantage of FDE drives from Seagate.

LSI, along with Seagate and IBM, has been talking about FDE for a couple of years now, but this is the first product LSI will ship that has the feature. The encryption is done in memory a specialized chip attached to the hard disk drive itself. Encryption can be used with a subset of drives within the array, which can also mix in FC and SATA disks. Up to 448 disk can now be attached to the controller, double the previous capacity limit.

Before encrypted disk arrays are widely deployed, key management will probably need to be developed a little further. With this release, users have to supply their own key management program; LSI is supplying key management through its SANtricity GUI. Every encrypted disk in this release would have the same key. Work is still being done to bring key management standards together so users can manage keys centrally within the data center.

Meanwhile, LSI has yet to add support for 10 GbE or FCoE to this array, but host interface cards can be swapped out of the 7900 without changing out the whole box. LSI director of product marketing Steve Gardner says FCoE won’t be ready for prime time until next year. “I think technological immaturity coupled with the economic downturn will slow adoption,” he said. He echoed Symantec CEO Enrique Salem in wondering aloud what the economic downturn will do to financial institutions which are normally early adopters for new technology.

“About a year ago, we started seeing interest in InfiniBand storage outside high-performance computing [HPC],” Gardner said. “Unfortunately, many of those interested were financial institutions with requirements for ‘enterprise HPC’,” he said.

As long as we were discussing FCoE, I was also reminded of my discussion with Brocade CTO David Stevens about the technical differences (or relative lack thereof) between the value proposition of InfiniBand vs. FCoE. Engenio’s 7900 already supports InfiniBand natively, so I asked Gardner as well.

“If FCoE has a better chance to succeed, it’ll be because of the [vendors] behind it, Cisco especially,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a technology question.”

IBM sells the LSI Engenio 7900 as the DS5000. Sun and SGI — recent acquisition targets — also sell the system under their brands.

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