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LSI's waters

The component sea in which storage boats trawl

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CEO Abhi Talwalkar is confidently making LSI Logic into a much more focussed company. It has bought Agere which gave it hard disk drive (HDD), networking and mobility technologies, but the mobility stuff is going to Infineon, along with LSI's own consumer technologies, sold to Magnum Semi, to produce an LSI with two arrows to its bow.

One is storage, with products ranging from silicon to systems (Engenio arrays) including software, and the other is networking. The storage offering has been expanded with acquisitions of StoreAge (SAN virtalisation), SiliconStor (FC/SAS bridge), and Tarari (DPI and content processing). End users will see Engenio storage arrays as the tip of LSI's iceberg. Underneath the water is a whole raft of storage and networking technologies used as components in other company's products.

Marco Dottorelli, LSI's MD for EMEA, said LSI wants to grow its storage businesses: systems, components, peripherals, and software, as well as the networking business. The storage software products include SANtricity management software and StoreAge virtualisation and allied data movement and snapshot software.

He says LSI supplies product in the direct-attached storage (DAS), RAID, SAN, NAS and iSCSI areas and has: "an unparalleled storage footprint." Virtually all major storage hardware suppliers will have LSI components somewhere in their products.

The heart of the business is still silicon and system level components. With the Agere acquisition came Seagate as a customer for re-amplifiers. LSI also supplies system-on-chip (SOC) hard disk controllers. New technology for the pre-amplifier is reducing power consumption by 25 percent, which helps Seagate in its drive to offer more power-efficient HDD products.

LSI has joined the Green Grid to help in the development of greener IT equipment.

As well as HDD controller board components it supplies interconnect technology covering Infiniband, Fibre Channel, serial-attached SCSI (SAS) and iSCSI. SGI uses LSI's Infiniband technology. The Simplicity 1532 iSCSI and SAS hard drive array product has iSCSI host connectivity and serial ATA (SATA) or SAS hard drives. LSI is putting out the message that this can be used as a centrally-managed IP SAN for VMware virtualised blade servers.

The SANtricity Fibre Channel-based storage products have also had iSCSI added to them via a deal with QLogic. Here the message is one of Fibre Channel SAN extension via iSCSI.

Dottorelli said iSCSI has turned the corner with growing numbers of installations across the board from small, through medium to large and very large enterprises.

He also revealed that LSI, Seagate and IBM were jointly developing full disk encryption FDE). Local key management would be achieved by an IBM array. Remote key management would be done through IBM servers. The necessary key management software is being developed jointly. (See key management story here.) Encryption technology is embedded in the HDD controller ASIC.

Dottorelli was unable to comment on questions about LSI adding replication to the StoreAge product set. We don't know if LSI can see a good business in moving some of its storage software products into hardware.

LSI is being run to be lean. Non-essential businesses that don't accord with the stated mission of producing technologies connecting people and information are being sold off. Operating expense is being reduced. A global contract manufacturing scheme is being introduced to lower cost. LSI wants to provide oceans of high value storage products at silicon, components, peripherals, system and software levels to provide a profitable sea in which suppliers trawl to produce their own products.

We might characterise LSI as wanting to be the biggest storage supplier end users have never heard of. Their attention is on the boats, not the sea. As long as more and more boats, which supply end users, fish in LSI waters, Talwalkar will be happy.


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