Appliance Is King at SNW

Wayne Rash: Single-purpose appliance hardware reigns supreme at Storage Networking World.

DALLAS—If there was a unifying theme at this falls Storage Networking World Oct. 15 to 18 at the Gaylord Texan Resort, here, it is the ascendancy of the appliance.

While there are still some disk enclosures, servers and software packages, the biggest stars were the ranks of 1U and 2U machines designed around a single purpose.

The single purpose that constituted the bulk of the appliances being shown at SNW was iSCSI devices, mostly SAN (storage area network) appliances. The companies involved said that the potential for growth in 10 Gigabit Ethernet was responsible for the sudden interest in iSCSI SANs.

Companies with new (or at least improved) iSCSI SANs included the usual suspects. For example, Adaptec was showing its 700 series iSCSI storage devices (currently being tested in eWEEK Labs) and Dell was showing its new iSCSI MD3000i, just reviewed by eWEEK Labs. Other companies included China-based H3C, which announced a new iSCSI device.

Perhaps more important over the long run were the new storage technologies that emerged at SNW. Texas Memory Systems showed its all-solid-state storage solution thats based on flash memory, which the firm claims is the fastest storage available period.

Gear6, meanwhile, is also using solid-state memory, but as a sort of giant cache that gives fast storage, but ultimately saves the information to disk.


Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, meanwhile, showed a new line of its UltraStor disks that is more compact, uses less energy and is faster than previous offerings. Hitachi GST gave out squeezable sumo wrestlers just so youd remember this.

Security vendors that specialized in storage and data security appliances were making a big splash as well. Hifn was showing its new data encryption and compression appliance that the company says introduces minimal latency while providing enterprise class security. Likewise, Thales e-Security was showing its cryptography appliance aimed at the government and enterprise sectors of the market.

Many of the vendors at the SNW exhibition are companies youll never actually see, at least not under their own names. Server maker Super Micro Computer, for example, was pitching its machines to the OEM market. Youll see their machines, but theyll have someone elses name on them. The same is true for Rasilient Systems, which makes enterprise storage.

Of course the big OEM names were present as well, including Intel, which makes both components and entire systems, and processor maker AMD.


Click here to read about how storage planning has become chaotic for companies.

The show was rife with big names in storage. EMC was showing their latest products; Adaptec was showing its Snap iSCSI server; IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Brocade were showing SAN products. HP had its "Shorty" blade server, (also reviewed recently by eWEEK Labs).

One interesting arrival with a new line of small and midsize business products was Netgear, which showed its line of NAS (network-attached storage) devices. The devices included a desktop compact storage server, and a rack mount storage server intended for wiring closets or server rooms.

SNWs focus on appliances also brought a focus on installation and management designed for non-experts. These products feature wizards that are supposed to be able to bring them online with a minimum of effort and knowledge.

No word on how well these wizards work, but its clear that this is the beginning of a much larger trend to bring storage and storage management to companies that previously were locked out of this part of the market due to lack of trained staff.

SNW ends October 18.


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Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...