Feature

Best storage products of 2004

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Disk & Disk Subsystems

GOLD:  

Hitachi's TagmaStore arrays can virtualize external storage systems.
Hitachi Data Systems' TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform
Hitachi Data Systems' (HDS) TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP), the successor to HDS' Lightning 9900 V series, considerably ups the ante of what a storage area network (SAN) array can do.

Our judges gave TagmaStore very high marks for its innovation. TagmaStore isn't only a high-performance block storage array, it can also virtualize Hitachi and selected third-party storage devices attached to it. In other words, it's possible to access TagmaStore's internal storage as well as externally hosted storage through a single interface.

Virtualization isn't new, but embedding it into

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a storage array is. Unlike virtualization pioneers such as DataCore Software Corp. and FalconStor Software Inc., or more recent entrants like IBM's TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller, HDS has foregone putting virtualization in the network in the form of an appliance or as part of an intelligent switch. Instead, the virtualization capabilities reside in the "control unit," as HDS puts it. This allows TagmaStore users to employ the same software functionality they are familiar with from HDS Lightning arrays, and apply it to any virtualized storage managed by TagmaStore. Harnessing the power of virtualization without having to learn a new system is a big win.

Then there are TagmaStore's performance specs, which are not too shabby. HDS says its top-of-the-line model boasts an incredible 2 million I/Os per second; 81GB/sec aggregate internal bandwidth; scalability to 32PB (that's right, petabytes) of capacity, including 332TB of internal storage; and up to 192 Fibre Channel, 64 ESCON or 48 FICON ports. TagmaStore also has an innovative cache partitioning feature that allows you to carve up TagmaStore storage resources for various servers. This allows you to guarantee an application a certain level of service.

Powered by the third-generation Universal Star Network Crossbar Switch architecture, TagmaStore comes in three models: the USP1100, the USP600 and the entry-level USP100. But be forewarned; this power and innovation doesn't come cheap. (For more on the TagmaStore, see HDS reinvents high-end arrays).

SILVER:  

Snap server 18000, from Adaptec, is a low-cost array with RAID 5 SATA disks.
Adaptec's Snap Server 18000
Adaptec's Snap Server 18000 is targeted squarely at small- to medium-sized businesses. The device is a combination block (iSCSI) and file array based on technology acquired from Snap Appliance, San Jose, CA, which is now a division of Adaptec. It scored highly for ease of use, integration and, of course, value.

Priced at less than $5/GB, Snap Server 18000 scales to 30TB. That price is achieved by using low-cost serial ATA disk drives (hot swappable), but the array also packs in RAID 5, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, redundant power and cooling, and UPS support. Then there's the software: BakBone Software Inc.'s NetVault backup and restore, and Computer Associates International's eTrust Antivirus and snapshot software.

Snap Server's Instant Capacity Expansion (I.C.E.) feature lets users expand capacity simply by plugging in another storage shelf, which is automatically recognized and added to the pool. Adaptec says setup and integration can be performed in less than 30 minutes, thanks to its reliance on the ubiquitous Ethernet infrastructure.

BRONZE:  

Exanet's ExaStore 2.0 is a high-performance, highly scalable NAS array.
Exanet's ExaStore 2.0
A network-attached storage (NAS) startup that received high praise from our judges for innovation and performance, New York City-based Exanet Inc. aims its product at shops requiring high-performance and highly scalable file storage. In benchmark tests last fall, the company clocked a six-node cluster at more than 200,000 operations per second on a single file system NAS system. ExaStore's distributed file system and distributed coherent caching allow the system to scale linearly in terms of performance, capacity and bandwidth.

ExaStore software is hardware-independent, but the firm offers several preconfigured systems--the EX200, EX400, EX600 and EX800. In addition to support for NFS and CIFS, it supports the Apple File Protocol and boasts integration with Veritas' NetBackup, EMC's Legato NetWorker, and digital media applications such as Adobe, Dalim, Helos, Prinergy, Quark and Xinet. But when one judge noted the premium pricing, he wasn't kidding. List price for a SATA-based 10TB, two-node configuration is $125,000.

This was first published in January 2005

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