Small businesses that have shied away from the complexity and expense of SANs (storage area networks) in the past might finally have a way to adopt the technology fairly painlessly, if Hitachi Data Systems new “Starter SAN” idea has legs.
HDS last week introduced SAN Starter Solutions, including preconfigured storage systems and components from well-known SAN vendors. The SAN kit combines Brocades SilkWorm 3252, an eight-port fabric switch with the Emulex LP101 Host Bus Adapter, and the McDATA Sphereon 4500 fabric switch with eight ports.
Each of the three components has features and functions that make them easy to use, thus appealing to the SMB (small and midsized business) market.
The SilkWorm 3252 has the EZ-Setup Wizard, online training and GUI-based Web tools, while the LP101 Host Bus Adapter has the AutoPilot Installer wizard and quick-install guide. The Sphereon 4500 switch has a built-in, browser-based tool that simplifies SAN management of small fabrics.
The goal, said Hu Yoshida, chief technology officer at HDS, is for smaller businesses to be able to easily install and use a SAN solution without incurring extensive costs or reliability issues that can occur with some products.
The “Starter SAN” concept is a good one, provided that HDS can convince the SMB market that it needs the features and functions HDS plans to offer, which are not typically available to small and midsized businesses, said John Webster, senior analyst at Data Mobility Group of Nashua, N.H.
“Its a process not only of bringing a product but of getting that segment of the market to fully appreciate what HDS is trying to do,” he said.
With its Starter SAN, HDS is moving into territory a few others have tried. Hewlett-Packard Co. and QLogic Corp, for example, introduced a SAN-in-a-box solution earlier this year targeted at SMBs. Other vendors to try this approach include Dell Inc. and EMC Corp.
But HDS approach is different from that of its competitors, which tend to approach the SMB market by offering products with lower price and immediate product availability. Instead, HDS is choosing to focus on high value, Webster said.
“Its a strategy that hasnt proven in the past to be an overnight sensation, but it has merit,” he said. “What they didnt want to do is dilute their product line. They wanted to stay true to their approach to the marketplace from top to bottom.”
Along with the SAN Starter Kit, HDS announced Thunder 9520V Workgroup Modular Storage, a product that offers 4.2 gigabytes per second of cached bandwidth.
To appeal to the SMB market, the Thunder 9520V also offers “call home” technology to help diagnose and resolve problems and a template-style GUI that helps SAN users configure and set up the system.
The product also offers four virtual storage ports, SATA (serial ATA) disk reliability including read-after-write data protection, global hot sparing for SATA, fast rich copy and rebuilt priority, enhanced surface cleaning logic, multiple data copy options, and multiple device and data management options.