Flash gears up for SAN role

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Flash gears up for SAN role

Texas Memory Systems to introduce a SAN appliance featuring 2TB of Flashcapacity.

Texas Memory Systems (TMS) will raise the bar in solid-state storage in November by introducing a storage area network (SAN) appliance featuring 2TB of Flash capacity and 64GB of DDR cache memory.

The 4U RamSan 500 also features Raid 5 protection, a redundant battery system, and supports up to eight 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel (FC) or four InfiniBand ports, providing enterprise-class connectivity and reliability in a Flash storage system for the first time.

TMS sales engineer Jamon Bowen said the device is intended to provide large corporates with low-latency read/write operations to support large databases and other performance-sensitive applications.

“This makes perfect sense for Oracle and SQL Server database and data warehousing deployments,” Bowen said. “Customers get dramatically lower latency than any other storage system out there. The read performance over the entire 2TB will have around 200ms latency. Most enterprise SAN systems have 200ms access only to the cache, whereas this will look to the user like having 2TB of cache.”

Bowen said pricing for the RamSan 500 will be equivalent to around $150(£74)/GB when it becomes available in Europe in November.

Marc Jourlait, vice president of global marketing at hard disk drive specialist Seagate, conceded that solid-state SAN appliances may have some attraction in niche markets.

Jourlait argued spinning disks will continue to dominate enterprise storage for some time to come, however, even though Seagate is hoping to introduce pure and hybrid solid-state devices next year.

“Solid-state [storage] will not take over the world and it is hard to see how many [RamSan 500s] they will sell or what the application will be. Two terabytes of Flash is overkill and expensive, plus you need to consider what the duty cycle is,” Jourlait said.

Separately, Dell last week promoted iSCSI as the answer to the storage needs of companies with limited budgets and little access to IT skills.

“If you’re running a small business you have poor options,” Dell chief executive Michael Dell said. “It either costs too much or doesn’t do what you want it to do.”

Dell was speaking at the launch of the MD3000i, an iSCSI storage-area networking product designed for simple deployment.

“It runs on existing Ethernet. You don’t have to build a new infrastructure based on Fibre Channel, which is a complex, expensive obstacle for many firms,” Dell added.

Peter Scargill, national IT chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, agreed that small firms and subsidiaries need help.

“You forget that people want to send not just email but rich email and multimedia email, so capacities are just going up and up,” Scargill said. “Our membership database is our cash book. If we lose that, we lose the organisation.”
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