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 13.4T Bytes 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.
Nexsan's 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.
Disk & Disk subsystem runners-up