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11/7/2011
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NexGen Storage Launches Hybrid SAN For Virtualized Servers

Storage veterans from LeftHand Networks offer n5 system with three tiers of storage that can tune performance based on IOPs, capacity, and priorities.

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NexGen Storage emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday and introduced its n5 storage system, a hybrid mid-range storage area network (SAN) that can be easily configured for performance and capacity within virtualized environments.

The hybrid system is designed to manage the input-output bottlenecks inherent in virtualized workloads and uses three levels of storage--a DRAM tier, a PCIe flash solid state drive (SSD), and 7,200 RPM hard disk drives (HDD), the company said.

The n5 Operating System provides controls to set quality of service standards for multiple shared workloads in terms of input-outputs per second (IOPs), allowing configuration of performance in addition to capacity. Another capability of the operating system is called Dynamic Data Placement, which allows the system to perform data placement based on policy settings and self-learning, while important data reduction and expansion functions are performed as data is moved through, or served up from, DRAM, SSD, and HDD. NexGen calls the feature Phased Data Reduction and it uses each storage tier’s characteristics, along with workload service level policies, to determine how much compaction and expansion is appropriate.

The NexGen Storage system also uses a Fusion-io PCIe-based SSD adapter that is integrated into the appliance.

The full n5 operating environment includes a high-availability configuration of paired active-active processors, redundant disks, hot swappable power supplies, and fans. Storage tiers include 48 GB of DRAM, 1.2 TB of PCIe flash, and 32 TB of 7.2K RPM HDDs. Connectivity options for its iSCSI block protocol include four 10-Gbps Ethernet ports or 16 1-Gbps Ethernet ports. Thin provisioning, thin cloning, thin snapshots, and replication are also supported in the operating system software.

NexGen has taken a new approach to the development of workload service level policy based on performance (IOPs), capacity (GB), and priority (scheduling of data protection, data reduction, and reporting functions at a lower priority than critical workloads). While the company is entering an increasingly competitive environment for midrange hybrid SANs, the company’s experience in virtualization and iSCSI storage environments will serve them well.

NexGen was founded in 2010 by CEO John Spiers and CTO Kelly Long, both formerly founders of iSCSI systems company LeftHand Networks. While the company has only $2 million in funding from GroTech Ventures and Access Venture Partners, it claims that it will seek additional Series B funding now that the product is shipping.

The n5 storage system is available now through authorized NexGen resellers.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers. James E. Bagley contributed to this story.

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