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Special Supplement: Small office SANs

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Storage August 2006 Special Supplement

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SMB SAN options

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SMB storage options
The newest initiatives come from a broad array of vendors and attempt to alleviate storage complexity for SMBs. The idea is to build much of the capability into the OS, typically Windows Server, and to then provide a GUI and wizards to mask the underlying complexity. What SMBs give up in flexibility and control, they save in not having to hire skilled staff.

FC SAN options for SMBs are limited. But several vendors, such as EMC and HP, offer scaled-down FC SAN-in-a-box products. Lesser known vendors like Winchester Systems Inc. and Xiotech Corp. also offer similar options (see "SMB SAN options," this page). Most of the starter SANs use iSCSI, which runs on an SMB's Ethernet network. "These starter SANs make SANs possible, but you're going to give up some things," says StorageIO's Schulz. For instance, they typically offer limited RAID options, either mirroring or RAID 5, and often don't include remote replication or snapshot capabilities.

The list of vendors offering iSCSI SAN-in-a-box products is growing and includes EqualLogic Inc., Intransa Inc., LeftHand Networks Inc., Nexsan Technologies Ltd., Nimbus Data Systems and StoneFly Inc., among others. "These companies have a lower cost structure than the big vendors so they can offer a low price," says Schulz. The products typically include slower, less-reliable SATA drives but come with RAID protection, a basic GUI setup and management tools.

This was first published in August 2006

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