Adaptec and nStor extend SATA to SANs
Distinctly different solutions from Adaptec and nStor have great management and value in commonFollow @infoworld
Nothing has been more exciting in storage than following the constant evolution of SATA disk drives, watching their capacity grow and prices per megabyte shrink, thus easing deployment of SATA drives in the once forbidden realm of enterprise SANs.
Although SATA drive performance and reliability are still no match for that of the more rugged SCSI and faster FC (Fibre Channel) siblings, SATA drives have improved over their parallel ATA ancestors. They are carving out a rather large deployment area that spans across transactional and reference data. Their recent adoption for entry-level solutions aimed at SMBs and remote offices from heavyweights such as EMC and Hewlett-Packard strengthens the case for SATA, especially against SCSI, at the low end of storage networking.
Western Digital has been adding diversity to the SATA landscape with product lines that significantly improve reliability and performance, such the WD Raptor and, more recently, the Caviar RAID Edition drives.
Despite advancements, the debate about whether SATA storage has sufficient reliability to support enterprise applications will probably last for a while because each side has strong arguments. Moderate cost and fast transfer rates make SATA drives an excellent candidate for deployments, such as disk-to-disk backups where the quantity of storage available is more important than its quality. Using SCSI or FC for backup scenarios is typically overkill. Although these technologies offer more reliability, they are also more expensive.
Not surprisingly, many products are emerging that enable connecting SATA storage devices to servers using FC, SCSI, or the emerging iSCSI (Internet SCSI). Among them are the Adaptec iSA1500 Storage Array and the nStor 4700F.
Despite some similarities, these solutions are indicative of how broad and diversified the SATA market is. Both offer great value, excellent management software, and superb features, but the iSA1500 shines for its contained form factor while the 4700F excels in performance.
Connectivity is another distinguishing factor between these solutions: With its two 2Gbps FC ports, the 4700F can find a home in any corporate fabric. By contrast, the iSA1500 deploys the friendlier and less expensive iSCSI connectivity protocol.
Adaptec iSA1500 Storage Array
Who says that large storage capacity goes hand-in-hand with bulky arrays? Thanks to four 250GB Maxtor drives, the Adaptec iSA1500 offers a roomy usable capacity close to 1TB in just a slim, 1U box.
The iSA1500 enclosure hosts 1GB of memory; a 1.6GHz Pentium processor; two GbE ports for data access; and KVM connectors, which ease local management via CLI. Overall, the unit is well put together; my only gripe is that its fans are a tad too noisy.