Storage powerhouses Hewlett-Packard Co. and QLogic Corp. have created an easy-to-use SAN-in-a-box product targeted at small and midsize businesses.
The HP StorageWorks MSA1000 Small Business SAN Kit is an entry-level storage area network offering based on HPs SmartArray technology that assembles everything a company needs to build a SAN. The kit includes the HP Modular Smart Array 1000 (MSA1000), HPs 2GB Fibre Channel disk array; two QLogic SANblade host bus adapters; an eight-port Fibre Channel QLogic SANbox Switch; and QLogics SANsurfer Express GUI software, which takes advantage of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Virtual Disk Service, a provisioning and storage resource management tool.
Having everything in one place simplifies the process immensely, said Charles Vallhonrat, a product marketing manager at Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP. "Traditionally you have to order HBAs, a switch and the controller itself, and then you have to configure it all and put it together," he said.
Although systems administrators could assemble the pieces themselves to build a SAN, it would take significantly more time and cost more than 20 percent more, said Frank Berry, vice president of marketing at QLogic, of Aliso Viejo, Calif.
"We timed and counted the steps involved in doing this," Berry said. "A trained systems engineer using products comparable to those in the HP kit took about three and a half hours, and this takes about 24 clicks."
The ease-of-use factor was key in developing the system for the SMB market, whose employees traditionally have little or no storage experience and needed something easier to use, he said.
"By our estimation, SMBs arent installing SANs because they are too expensive and complex," Berry said. "We knew we had to create something that was affordable and basically plug-and-play."
The SAN-in-a-box concept is a clear recognition by the storage industry that the SMB space is virtually an untapped market, said Tony Asaro, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.
"SMBs dont necessarily have the expertise to implement SANs, but their data storage is growing at such a rapid rate that they could benefit from implementing SANs in order to consolidate backup and simplify storage management," he said.
And the fact that storage leaders like HP and QLogic have banded together to develop a product like this will help set the bar for similar offerings from other players, which is good news for customers, he noted.
Although there are other SAN kit solutions available today, they tend to be kits where customers must assemble the pieces on their own. Dell Inc. and EMC Corp., for example, have package deals that include HBAs, switches and the AX100 storage array, but they tend to be much more difficult to assemble, Asaro said.
In other news, Hewlett-Packard also introduced a new family of network-attached storage products under the ProLiant Storage Server name. Both the HP ProLiant ML350 and ML370 G4 Storage Servers provides up to 1.8TB of internal capacity, while the DL380 G4 Storage Server can scale up to 48TB.