With yesterday’s release of both an iSCSI version of it’s entry-level DS3300 and a complete, Microsoft Simple SAN-certified DS3400 solution, IBM is bringing the love to the … umm … well … compact (?) end of the storage market. See, we can’t call it “low-end” because these devices are decidedly not “low-end” in their functionality. And we can’t call it “entry-level” or “small business” because lots of established players buy this stuff. Modular and monolithic may describe some hardware, but it hardly differentiates the market. I refuse to start with tall like Starbucks (though you can get a super-tasty short cappuccino there!) So let’s just ape the car market and call it “compact”. There’s no shame in owning a compact car, especially with gas prices where they are, so why not get some compact storage to go with your green data center?
So what’s IBM doing this time? Well, they’ve taken LSI’s proven Engenio 1333 array technology (which they’ve used for a while) and turned on iSCSI functionality. IBM veers off course from the startups by not bundling snapshot and replication technology with their new array, however. This reduces the cost of entry but diminishes the impact of this new technology, since adding that software can easily double the price of this Ford Escort storage system.
IBM has also certified a complete Fibre Channel SAN solution with Microsoft, if you’re into that sort of thing. Their DS3400 can chat with an Emulex HBA and Brocade switch with quick setup and guaranteed compatability or your money back! (I made up that last part…) I’ve been pleased by Microsoft’s Simple SAN push in the past and think this is an excellent alternative to iSCSI for sites that aren’t ready to take the storage-over-Ethernet plunge yet.
Why care? Well, simply because this “compact” market is where the big action is in storage right now. Thanks to the VMware explosion, just about every smaller-than-10-TB shop is currently buying and deploying SANs right now, a fact that has warmed the hearts (and fed the sales people) at companies like EqualLogic, LeftHand, HP, Dell, and the rest for a year or so now. IBM was too early to market with an iSCSI array back in 2001, but has had nothing to sell since they axed the Adaptec-powered DS300/400 back in January. Welcome back!