IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Affordable SAN Solutions for SMBs

The high cost of deploying powerful storage area networks has kept many SMBs from leveraging their power. Not anymore. By Alan R. Frank

Storage areas networks--the most powerful technology available for block-level storage--have been part of the enterprise landscape for years. But new products aimed at small and midsize businesses have come off the drawing boards at such companies as Dell and HP, putting the technology within reach of companies with smaller pocketbooks. But before recommending a SAN solution for a client, keep in mind the company's budget, applications, workload, and projected growth. Here's a roundup of seven solutions worth investigating.

Dell EqualLogic PS5000E iSCSI SAN

This array supports up to 16 SATA or SAS drives per chassis and is available with single or dual controllers. It scales to 192 TB per PS Series group and supports up to 512 servers. The PS5000E also comes with a soup-to-nuts collection of features such as snapshots, replication, and thin provisioning that are often extra-cost options on competing products.

Dell PowerVault MD3000i iSCSI SAN

The MD 3000i is an entry-level iSCSI SAN that supports up to 16 servers and is available with single or dual controllers. Up to 15 SATA or SAS drives may be used per enclosure, up to a maximum of 15 TB, and up to two expansion enclosures may be added for a total capacity of 45 TB. Snapshots are an option.

HP StorageWorks All-in-One AiO1200 iSCSI SAN

HP's entry-level iSCSI SAN also features NAS file-serving capability. It supports 12 drives per enclosure and can be ordered in various SATA or SAS drive configurations, ranging up to 9 TB. Two expansion enclosures may be added to further extend capacity.

HP StorageWorks 2000i Modular Smart Array iSCSI SAN

Positioned as a good match for many midsize businesses, HP's StorageWorks 2000i Modular Smart Array (MSA) iSCSI SAN supports up to 16 servers and is available with single or dual controllers. It provides 12 drive bays for up to 9 TB of SATA or 3.6 TB of high-performance dual-ported SAS drives. Up to three additional drive enclosures allow expansion to 36 TB. Direct-attach (SAS) and Fibre Channel versions of the MSA series are also available.

LeftHand Networks Starter SAN

The LeftHand Networks Starter SAN is a package consisting of two iSCSI storage nodes, each equipped with 4.5 TB of storage; the company's SAN/iQ storage management software; and support. All features, including snapshots, replication, and thin provisioning, are included. The SAN is capable of scaling to 240 drives. (LeftHand Networks Inc. was acquired by HP, and its product portfolio has become part of HP's networked storage lineup.)

NetApp S550 iSCSI SAN

NetApp's entry-level iSCSI SAN solution, the S550, supports 12 SATA drives for up to 12 TB capacity. It combines NAS file serving with block-oriented SAN capabilities. A wide array of optional management features is also available.

NetApp FAS 2020

The NetApp FAS 2020 can be configured for iSCSI or Fibre Channel SAN connectivity and supports up to 12 SATA or SAS drives. Additional chassis enable expansion to 68 drives (and 68 TB). The FAS 2020 is available with single or dual controllers and supports NAS as well as SAN functionality. Numerous optional management features are also available.

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