Rivalry fuels storage advances

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Vendors in scramble to sell fast, high capacity disk arrays to SMEs

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Adaptec both launched new storage arrays last week, as they continue to try to chip away at EMC’s dominant market share, which stood at 23 per cent of all sales in the second quarter of 2007, according to the latest analyst figures.

The Hitachi Universal Storage Platform VM (USP VM) is a 10U rack-mounted cabinet featuring both Fibre Channel (FC) and InfiniBand connectivity options. It can accommodate a variety of existing network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) devices from IBM, Sun, HP, EMC, 3PAR and HDS itself.

“If the customer has something that is not on the support list, we can run it through the labs for qualification. If we already have the equipment, it should not take more than a week - up to six if we have to source the kit first,” Plumridge said. “The only issue we sometimes come across is cooling; the density of accommodating five 2U devices can occasionally cause heat issues, particularly with blade servers and older equipment.”

The USP VM will be updated to integrate thin provisioning software later this year, and comes with per-terabyte based licensing for HDS’s Basic Operating System (BOS) and BOS virtualisation software. A diskless version includes only the storage controller, chassis, cache and software.

HDS sold six per cent of all external controller-based arrays in the EMEA region in the second quarter of 2007, according to Gartner, though this figure does not take into account its OEM sales through HP and Sun. Both versions of the new USP VM will also be sold through these two vendors.

Adaptec’s share of the external array market is modest, as it sells iSCSI, rather than FC-based arrays. The firm’s latest Snap Server 700i 1U rack-mount appliance range accommodates up to 12 SATA or SAS hard disk drives, offering up to 3TB or 1.2TB of capacity respectively. All three versions feature RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and 60 support, as well as redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans.

Dan Chouinard, head of marketing for Adaptec’s storage systems group, said iSCSI appliances are generally intended for smaller firms looking to build low-cost SANs onto existing Ethernet networks.

Adaptec said it tested its 700i for performance using the Iometer 3.5 benchmark suite against other iSCSI-enabled devices, including EMC’s Clariion AX150i, Lefthand’s NSM 160 and EqualLogic’s PS70e. With RAID 5 and both file server and database payloads enabled, the SAS version of the 700i achieved up to three times the I/O per second performance of its nearest rival, Chouinard said.

“If you need performance, you need SAS drives. Exchange is brutal on storage subsystems because it has so many tiny transactions, and if you are hitting a database hard you should be using SAS,” he added.

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