Earlier this week, Dell unleashed into the storage market the results of the company's latest foray into storage—teh PowerVault MD3000i.
On the storage front, the last couple of years have been busy for the company. Between their partnership with EMC and their own work, Dell has aligned a full array of storage solutions that run the gamut. Earlier this year, the company released the NX1950, a Fibre Channel/iSCSI/NAS/SAN hybrid based on Microsoft Windows Unified Data Storage Server 2003.
With the MD3000i, Dell aims for smaller and simpler with a solution that is targeted specifically at the SMB market. The MD3000i is, as the name implies, based on Dell's MD3000 RAID storage array, but adds iSCSI connectivity features to take this direct attached storage device into the world of the SAN. The MD3000i, by connecting Dell's relatively inexpensive MD1000 arrays to the MD3000i, is expandable to 45 SAS disks for a total of 18TB of raw disk space. The standard model holds a single controller containing two gigabit Ethernet ports for iSCSI connectivity. The High Availability model has two controllers, each with two gigabit Ethernet ports. As expected from any highly available system, the MD3000i also supports redundant power supplies. With prices starting at $6,000 for the product, the pricing is very good.
However, if you're looking for enterprise-grade storage, look carefully at the MD3000i before you take the plunge. The offering does not support common SAN features such as replication, which Dell indicates belong in higher end storage offerings. I'm not sure that SMB's don't necessarily need this type of feature, but this is one price/feature tradeoff that needs to be considered. It's possible that Dell doesn't want to directly compete with EMC due their relationship. If replication features are absolutely essential and you want to stick with Dell, look at the AX150 or a CX series array, or even the NX1950.
If you're looking at raw space with reasonable expansion capability, take a look at the MD3000i. Like I said, if you need more advanced features, pass over this offering.
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 with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at email@example.com.