2002 was a tough year for storage managers who were charged with running their departments on flat - or even shrinking - budgets in the face of ever-increasing data storage demands. So it's only fitting that as winner of the disk subsystem category, our judges chose a product characterized by monstrous capacity for such a low price: Nexsan's InfiniSAN ATAboy2.
Based on up-and-coming ATA drives, the current generation of the ATAboy is the ATABeast, which comes with 13.4TB of capacity in a 4U enclosure, with a list price of about $40,000. That's under $3/GB, or under a third of a cent per megabyte.
| ATAboy family is primarily marketed as a target for disk-based backup, but it's also being used by organizations that store large quantities of so-called fixed content. For example, the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City uses Nexsan's ATAboy to archive digitized television and radio shows. As one judge put it, "This is the one for the up-and-comer. It has the value small shops low on capital need."
Judges weren't only impressed by the ATAboy's low price point, but also its relatively high performance. Unlike some ATA-based arrays, all 42 drives in the ATABeast can be active simultaneously, for 25,000 IOPS and sustained data transfer rates of 180MB/s.
Judges also seemed to appreciate ATAboy for the ease with which it integrates into end-user environments. Unlike some ATA-based arrays targeted at backup or fixed content, you don't need to write to any special APIs, nor are you limited to using it as a target for a backup application. It can be used in conjunction with Nexsan's InfiniSAN D2D data management application, which provides timed online replication with multiversion control so that files are stored and accessed in native file format, for immediate restores. This is in contrast to tape backup applications, which store data in their own proprietary format.
Other vendors also launched ATA-based products targeted at fixed content this year - for example, EMC with its Centera array. And while judges scored it highly for its innovative architecture, it ultimately lost points on cost and integration concerns.
Among judges, Network Appliance's FAS900 - the company's first attempt at a storage area network (SAN) - got major brownie points for innovation. In the past, storage managers looking for both file and block capabilities could either install two separate systems, or put a network-attached storage (NAS) head in front of a SAN. The FAS900's operating and file systems, however, can natively serve up either file or block from the same physical disks, while maintaining a single point of management and a single set of software tools.
To be sure, converged file and block services are a nice technological feat, but the real reason judges rated the FAS900 so highly is because like its filer cousins before it, it's easy to implement, easy to manage and comes with a complete set of software functionality. In a world where companies spend up to $7 to manage every $1 of physical storage, that's a compelling recommendation.
3PAR's utility storage server isn't the everyman's disk subsystem. With capacity that can scale to 375TB in a single S800 system (using 2,560 147GB drives) and 47,001 SPC-1 IOPS performance, 3PAR has delivered on what is commonly known as utility storage - storage suited for the most demanding data center environments.
It's not only that 3PAR's Utility Storage Server is fast and gigantic that appealed to our judges. It's also the system's ability to serve up that performance and capacity as needed to a variety of different hosts and applications. Equipped with between two and eight clustered controller nodes, these data movement engines can handle mixed workloads simultaneously, while providing fault tolerance and single system image for simplified management.
For storage managers that want to consolidate their storage, 3PAR's Utility Storage Server presents them the opportunity to efficiently house all their diverse applications on a single system, without fear of wasting expensive storage resources.
This was first published in January 2003