Open Storage brings higher performance to workgroup

Toronto, Ont.-based Open Storage Solutions Inc.’s new Omega family of RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) data storage systems will offer throughputs from 80MBps to 100MBps to the host computer.

According to Open Storage Solutions marketing manager Gerry Fostaty, the flexibility in design of the Omega family’s RAID systems gives small- and medium-size business markets enterprise class features, expandability and performance at lower prices.

The Omega line is suited for businesses like video production houses and multimedia houses that require versatile, largely expandable storage, but not excessive costs. Fostaty drew attention to how the units can, “either be a pedestal-mount, rack-mount or you can stack them in threes,” he said. “It (Omega) grows like crazy. We can get anywhere from 54GB to well beyond a terabyte soon.”

“It is designed for a workgroup, which can be anything from a small one- or two-person operation up to a department,” Fostaty continued. “When you’re talking about a terabyte of storage, that’s a large workgroup.”

The Omega’s Web-based management feature allows for simple, point-and-shoot configuring of the RAID controller through any conventional Web browser.

“It’s a lot easier to use, it’s much more intuitive and, in fact, it’s just like using a Web browser,” said Fostaty. “It gives you the capability of remote monitoring. You could monitor that thing from Singapore if you wanted to. Your IT manager may not be physically in the same building, and he or she doesn’t have to get into a cab or on a bike and drive over there. They can manage it remotely, as long as they have a Web connection.”

The Omega family includes models with single (Omega UX) and dual (Omega SX 2) Ultra2 SCSI controllers as well as a Fibre Channel unit (Omega FX) which boasts the Omega family’s highest performance, making it ideal for a small SAN (Storage Area Network). According to Fostaty, with single controller speeds between 75MBps and 85MBps and the fibre channel unit transferring at 100MBps, the Omega line is ideal for workgroups.

However, Fostaty recommends that larger businesses with greater throughput needs move to the Infinity family of products, that offers nine disk channels, not three. The Omega units can get bogged down with device and channel saturation.

Although SCSI buses are an extremely efficient means for data transmission, the limitations have “really to do with the physical limitations of the SCSI bus,” said Fostaty. “You only want so many drives, so many devices on a single bus. It goes over a peak and then you start to see small diminishing returns in your performance. You can put a maximum of 15 devices on a SCSI bus, but if you put 15 devices on a SCSI bus you’re going to saturate that bus.”

Although he hasn’t used the Omega RAID line, Chris Hutchison, network flash system administrator with Brewer’s Retail in Mississauga, Ont. said he’s been pleased with the performance of his Infinity systems.

“I wouldn’t say, (it has) ‘no problems’ but in the greater scheme of things, I would say ‘no problems’. The product has done what it’s suppose to do; we’re quite happy with it.”

All RAID units are equipped with the Omega Personality Cube which incorporates a 10Base-T network port and automatic self-sensing termination using VHDCI SCSI connectors. According to Open Storage, these SCSI connectors help avoid the trouble many users have in properly terminating the SCSI chain.

The Omega family cross-platform feature enables users to store data on a single unit. “They’re not platform or operating system specific at all,” said Fostaty. “You can’t (always) share the data, but in some cases you can share the RAID system among platforms. You can have the same box connected to an SGI system and an NT box as well.”

“We’ve been around for over 20 years now and we’ve been focused on storage for over 20 years, so we understand the importance of it…and we can see where it’s going,” concluded Fostaty.

Open Storage Solutions can be reached at 1-800-387-3419 or at