Storage

Shared block-level storage continues to become more accessible


I considered entitling this post "Is storage becoming commoditized?" but the technical definition of "commodity" doesn't quite fit the bill. My question is this: Is the market for shared block-level storage continuing to become more accessible to a wider variety of customer? Personally, I think it is, and this is a good thing. With one exception, for most of my career, I've worked for fairly small organizations. A few years ago, the idea of a Fibre Channel-based SAN didn't even get raised because of the cost and complexity of such a solution. It was RAID all the way in most servers. For some servers, even RAID wasn't considered due to cost. Remember, RAID and SCSI drives used to be expensive!

Now, though, the storage market has exploded. With the introduction of iSCSI and new breeds of Fibre Channel being offered, it seems like there is something for everyone and at every price range. Here are some examples:

  • Dell AX150 array, Fibre Channel, 6TB raw, dual processors, refurbished, not scalable, 10 hosts max: $7,500.
  • EqualLogic PS400E, iSCSI, 10.5TB raw, fully redundant, scalable, unlimited hosts: $60K - $65K.
  • Overland ULTAMUS RAID 4800, Fibre Channel (4Gb), 18TB raw, redundant: $42K.
  • Left Hand Networks NSM 160, iSCSI, 2TB raw, redundant with three units (6TB): guess - ~ $40K or so.
  • Nexsan SATABoy, Fibre Channel/iSCSI, 7TB raw: $18K.
  • Nexsan SATABeast, Fibre Channel/iSCSI, 42TB raw: $55K.

Please don't use these prices for your budget. I Googled for this information, so some may be out of date. The point of this exercise, however, is to demonstrate that choice and price is all over the map. If you need shared storage for 2 or 3 servers and are on a super-tight budget, buy the Dell AX150. If money isn't an object and you want "best of breed" iSCSI, go for the EqualLogic PS400E. If your storage needs are a little more modest and budget is somewhat important, look to the SATABoy. For kicks, take a look at the SATABeast specs, too. At $55K for 42TB, it easily wins the price/TB comparison and supports both Fibre Channel (4Gb no less) and iSCSI.

Every time I look, there is something new to consider in the storage space. Sure, not all of the new options have whizbang new features, but they are certainly providing additional choice at prices that are all over the map. As a result, although the storage market is becoming a little more complex to navigate, there is incredible opportunity for customers of almost any size to take part in the shared block-level storage game.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

5 comments
ginkep
ginkep

"A few years ago, the idea of a Fibre Channel-based SAN didn???t even get raised because of the cost and complexity of such a solution. It was RAID all the way in most servers." Pardon me, but how come SAN and RAID mentioned there in same level? What SAN and RAID have in common to achieve same goal? Is SAN of any type can be interchangeable with RAID of any type?

stephan.stelter
stephan.stelter

Interesting article - in the context of "accessibility", I was somewhat surprised that you didn't mention LeftHand Networks' ability to utilize existing enterprise-class servers as a SAN. Today, LeftHand Networks' SAN/iQ software supports the HP DL380 G4, the HP DL320s, and the IBM x3650. SAN/iQ does for storage what VMware does for processors and memory - it lets you manage and scale storage resources while simultaneously increasing capacity, performance, and availability. You get enterprise-class SAN features for the TCO of enterprise-class servers. How cool is that? Completely integrated solutions based on the platforms above are available as well, along with the LeftHand Networks NSM160 platform mentioned in the article. Note that the most recent release of SAN/iQ (version 7) supports complete redundancy with only two storage modules. There is a multitude of other enhancements including a performance boost, seal-healing, multi-site SAN capabilities, and next-gen thin provisioning. http://www.lefthandnetworks.com/news/press.php?&RID=94

Scott Lowe
Scott Lowe

Stephan, LeftHand is certainly an important player in the booming world of iSCSI SANs. I will talk about the newest LH solutions in a future blog posting. Scott

mfarley
mfarley

It was probably obvious, but I just thought I'd mention that Stephan Stelter who posted a previous comment on this thread is an employee of Lefthand. -Marc Farley, EqualLogic

stephan.stelter
stephan.stelter

...but I could have been more explicit. I thought my email address would have popped up and I hate being redundant, but clearly it didn't. I was not alerted to your posting or I would have responded sooner. All: my apologies for any confusion. Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays! Stephan Stelter LeftHand Networks

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