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QLogic takes a stab at SAN "lite"

QLogic is the latest vendor to market a simplified SAN product. But is it what the end-user really needs?

QLogic takes a stab at SAN "lite"
By Alan Earls

QLogic recently joined the ranks of vendors offering "lite" SANs with the announcement of its SAN Connectivity Kit 1000, a turnkey SAN comprised of a Fibre Channel switch, Fibre Channel HBAs, SAN management software, cables and GBICs. Qlogic says at $9,999 manufacturer's suggested retail price, the SAN Connectivity Kit 1000 is designed to give IT professionals a simple, affordable entry to the benefits of SANs.

Indeed, Dan Tanner, senior analyst, storage & storage management, Aberdeen Group, Inc., notes that, "high costs, interoperability questions and cumbersome installation issues are among the reasons small businesses have held off on Fibre Channel SAN implementation." QLogic is by no means the first to try to come up with more affordable SAN options. But how viable are these solutions and QLogic's in particular?

According to Randy Kerns, a partner/analyst with the Evaluator Group, Greenwood Village, Colo., most vendors have aimed for a "SAN in a Box" solution, usually including the cabinet, storage devices, a switch, HBAs, driver software, and sometimes a backup server.

Kerns says the reason these SAN in a Box solutions are popular is that organizations usually don't have a professional staff dedicated solely to managing storage. In fact, it isn't unusual for smaller organizations to have a systems administrator also take care of storage as an added and sometimes unwelcome function. Kerns says that making it simpler--with less education required--is a must in order for vendors to play in that space.

"A new take on this is from HP which is offering that simplicity plus SANlink virtualization software (a product of their purchase of StorageApps) installed on a pair of thin servers," Kerns says.

In context with competing offerings, Kerns is less than bullish on the new QLogic offering, which he views as "basically the same as a SAN in a Box but without the storage."

"I would rather buy a complete offering and buy it from a vendor I know can back it up with support," says Kerns. "This is a trend, and QLogic is trying to capitalize on it, but the customer will want a complete solution."

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer residing in Franklin, Mass.

Additional Resources:
1. Interoperability: Playing nice in the SAN box?
Heterogeneous or homogeneous? SAN or NAS? WAN, LAN, or remote data centers? Routers, hubs and switches...If you want your storage networking components to communicate, you'll want to hear about the latest interoperability trends.

2. Who needs SAN virtualization?
According to Richard Lee, president of Data Storage Technologies, there are several good reasons to go virtual. They are: lower management costs, less complexity and higher return on investment. Good article here. Check out one vendor's experience and being "scared to death."

3.What should I consider when figuring savings on a SAN?
A Storage Area Network (SAN) not only improves storage performance, it can also save a considerable amount of money. However not all the sources of savings from a SAN are immediately obvious. When estimating savings or ROI from a SAN you need to consider savings in personnel costs and savings from higher availability as well as lower capital costs.

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