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Vendors set out to prove SANs are low-cost

Dozens of hardware and software vendors are out to dispel the notion that SANs are only for large enterprises with deep pockets. SANs, they say, can cost less than $50,000.

A group of more than 30 storage vendors want your ear.

Their message? You don't need to blow your entire IT budget on a storage area network (SAN).

Cost has traditionally been a sticking point in the minds of customers when it comes to SAN technology, but the members of the Affordable SAN Initiative say that is no longer the case.

"Small and medium businesses are aware of SANs, but they think of the [technology] as really expensive and complex," said Frank Berry, vice president of corporate marketing for Qlogic Corp.

Berry maintains that the idea that SANs cost more than $250,000 is a myth. End users can buy and implement a SAN for less than $50,000, he said.

QLogic said a typical SAN solution today includes the installation of T Byte of disk storage and a tape library shared by eight servers across a redundant fabric for a cost of about $250,000. A price, Berry said, is out of reach to the majority of small and medium businesses. The Affordable SAN Initiative said it breaks down this cost barrier with SAN configurations targeted at two-to-four node server workgroups supporting applications such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server.

Bob Stavrou, director of Information Systems for US Labs, an anatomic pathology laboratory based in Irvine, Calif.

"One of the things we have a problem with here is that we're buying a lot of Dell servers to fit the different needs throughout the company," said Stavrou. "We end up with RAID5 arrays all over the place."

Stavrou said the last time he looked at a SAN to solve his storage problems the price tag was in the six-figure range, but when he went on the hunt for a solution to his storage problems in October of last year, he found the technology to be significantly less expensive.

US Labs put a 500G Byte SAN in place for approximately $31,000.

"The price of our servers was cut in half when we bought the SAN because we didn't have to buy the RAID arrays," he said.

He said plans are in place to build another SAN next year to accommodate US Labs growing collection of medical images.

Members of the initiative include: Acer Inc., Advanced Digital Information Corp., ATTO Technology Inc., BakBone Software Inc., BMC Software Inc., Broadband Storage Inc., Chaparral Network Storage Inc., Ciprico Inc., Computer Associates Inc., Crossroads Systems, DataCore Software Corp., Dot Hill Inc., Eurologic Systems Inc., Exabyte Corp., FalconStor Software Inc., Legato Systems Inc., LSI Logic Storage Systems Inc., MTI Technology Corp., Nexsan Technologies, Nishan Systems Inc., nStor Technologies Inc., Overland Data Inc., Prisa Networks Inc., Procom Technology Corp., Qualstar Corp., Quantum Corp., Qlogic, Raidtec Corp., SAN Valley Systems Inc., Seagate Technology Corp., Spectra Logic Inc., Storage Technology Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Veritas Software Inc., Vicom Technology Inc., and Zzyzx Peripherals Inc.

"Cost and complexity have haunted the Fibre Channel SAN industry and caused slow adoption," said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass. "This will lead to more people reaping the benefits of networked storage."

In the coming months, members of the Affordable SAN Initiative sad they will announce products that provide SAN disk storage, tape storage and storage management solutions for less than $50,000.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor


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