Apple Computer Inc. continues its foray into the highly competitive storage market with an updated, improved Xserve RAID unit, available now, and the upcoming Xsan File System.
These storage products, combined with the Xserve G5 server, should allow Apple to market a tightly integrated and cost-efficient end-to-end server and storage system.
Based on what weve seen, eWEEK Labs believes the storage products under development at Apple will be solid choices for media production houses and other Apple strongholds within the year.
With the second edition of Xserve RAID, which shipped earlier this year, Apples RAID storage unit is now qualified for Windows, Linux and Unix environments. (The previous version was supported only on Apple computers.) Multiplatform support should make this storage unit more popular with IT managers in charge of heterogeneous environments.
From a cost perspective, it is hard to beat the Xserve RAID, which ranges in price from $5,999 for 1 terabyte of raw storage to $10,999 for the 3.5-terabyte versions.
The Xserve RAID supports Fibre Channel connectivity to servers and uses ATA-based drives for storage, which make a low price point possible.
However, ATA drives are not as fast or reliable as their SCSI and Fibre Channel counterparts, so we wouldnt recommend using these storage units in performance-sensitive applications.
An ideal place to use the Xserve RAID would be as a storage target for disk-based backup applications.
The Xserve RAID now has LUN (logical unit number) slicing, which will enable IT managers to carve up RAID units and allot them to servers.
New online expansion capabilities allow IT managers to add more disks to an array on the fly, a feature that was easy to use in our tests.
The Xsan File System, which will cost $999 and is slated to be available this fall, is designed to make it easier for IT managers to consolidate and share storage resources.
The Xsan File System can create 64-terabyte file systems and allows as many as 64 systems to simultaneously share storage on a SAN (storage area network).
With the SAN system in place, multiple users can access a single data volume at the same time, which will be valuable for video professionals who need to collaborate on projects.
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