(Part one of this interview gave us agámi's positioning of its products against BlueArc. Here it continues to look at Isilon, Acopia, NetApp, EMC and Sun's X4500.)
TW: How does the AIS fare against Isilon?
PS: agámi has a few advantages:
• Much higher capacity and performance per module (up to 24TB and 1GB/sec throughput in a single module) - Isilon are small boxes with 6TB and 2 x GbE network interfaces per box). Hence agámi is a match for the most powerful clients, whereas Isilon can only deliver high aggregate I/O to a larger number of small client computers - and they require a large number of modules in their cluster to do so. It would require 5 or 6 Isilon modules to match one AIS6000 in performance.
• Hardware & file system architecture optimised for high random I/O on SATA drives
• Unified storage with both file (NFS, CIFS) & block (iSCSI) access in the same system
• Logical replication at the file system & target level
• Lower TCO: better power density (watts per TB) and space density (TB per rack unit)
• Isilon has a distributed file system today, for Global Namespace and Federated Management, which agámi does not yet have commercially enabled (planned for early 2008).
• They are a public company already.
TW: Ditto for Acopia? I know agámi is not a switch product but Acopia does, I understand, provide fast NAS performance.
PS:Acopia is an agámi technology partner, and provides Global Namespace and data migration services on-top of agámi (and other NAS systems). We are working together to enable scalable NAS solutions at several customers.
TW: What about NetApp? Possibly agami's customers don't need RAID DP nor NetApp's add-on replication products and NetApp systems are slower, cost more and need more power.
PS: Yes, NetApp has a great and very mature file system and feature set, but OnTAP is still a 32-bit/single threaded architecture that cannot yet fully utilise Symmetric Multiprocessor systems (on FAS6070 for example, different tasks are pinned to processors and run single threaded), and they depend on fast/expensive drives for higher performance.
RAID-DP is interesting, and we do plan to provide customers with a RAID-6 policy option on AIS systems in a future release, with the usual performance/protection tradeoff). Overall, NetApp systems provide less throughput, and higher cost of ownership than agámi AIS servers, but with a richer feature set, and scalability to higher capacities.
TW: Ditto for EMC NAS?
PS: For EMC's integrated NAS systems in the midrange such as NS500/NS600/NS700, the answer is very similar to NetApp.
TW: How does the AIS product compare to Sun's X4500 which also uses Opterons and, I believe, SATA drives and is positioned as a hybrid server?
PS: Sun x4500 is a dual, dual-core Opteron system, and also uses HyperTransport based I/O. The main differences are:
• x4500 was designed originally as a video server, and hence does not have the same optimisations as agámi for fast write or fast random I/O performance. For example, x4500 has no NVRAM for write buffering.
• x4500 uses standard (desktop class) 500GB SATA drives, which do not have MTBF ratings nor full duty cycle ratings. Unlike agámi’s RAID5/ES, x4500 uses a traditional RAID5 scheme which will result in very long rebuild times (and hence worse MTTDL) when one of the drives fails.
• There are some missing features, e.g., no integrated replication. Also, it is not clear if CIFS protocol support for Windows clients and ISCSI is embedded or if its an add-on.
TW: May I assume Bell Micro Products as a distributor would make agámi products available in the UK and the rest of Europe?
PS: We are still selling in North America today, but would like to enter the European market in late 2007 through distributors and reseller partners.
Our conclusion here is that we have a set of AIS products that should be considered for NAS applications and also for iSCSI storage projects against such suppliers as EqualLogic, Left-Hand Networks and Intransa. The AIS systems are going to be enhanced with a global namespace facility, better protection and other features, so it is worth keeping up to date with agámi's progress as its product set matures.
As agámi's name expresses, this progress is intended to bear fruit in the future, through better NAS and iSCSI performance for customers and sales revenue growth leading to an IPO for agámi. So it is written - in Sanskrit at any rate.