Adaptec's little SAN that can
Exclusive: Snap Server 720i, an entry-level iSCSI SAN, packs big features in a small formatFollow @infoworld
Many different combinations of drives, controllers, and software are available in storage arrays for small and midsize businesses, but one example that you should not miss is the Snap Server 720i that Adaptec trotted out last week.
With the 720i, Adaptec proposes an affordable yet scalable iSCSI SAN module that doesn't skimp on performance and is easy to manage. From my early test-drive, I can attest that the 720i delivers on those promises, despite a minor hiccup or two.
[ Adaptec Snap Server 720i was selected for an InfoWorld Technology of the Year award. See the slideshow to view all winners in the storage category. ]
This compact 1U box comes with four SATA drives, a single power supply, and three Gigabit Ethernet cards to connect to an iSCSI SAN and to your management console. A choice of 250GB or 500GB drives puts total capacity at 1TB or 2TB, but if you need more you can daisy-chain as many as eight Adaptec SANbloc S50 expansion modules, 2U enclosures loaded with as many as 12 SAS (serial attached SCSI) or SATA drives.
You don't find many storage solutions in the SMB space that can expand so easily to 100 drives, making the 720i an interesting proposition for small companies that expect their capacity needs to grow significantly.
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The Adaptec controller inside the 720i supports just about any RAID level, including dual parity protection, which is a common-sense choice for large SATA drives. Still, having only four drives in the array limits your choice to either RAID 5 or mirroring, neither of which protects against a second drive failure while recovering from the first one. However remote that possibility may be, adding an expansion module to the 720i is a surefire remedy, because the addition of more drives gives you more choices in RAID levels.
Another option is to get a second 720i and mirror volumes across the two, so you can easily switch to the second array if the first one goes south -- more on this later.
Easy Storage Manager
Setting up my two 720i was, yes indeed, a snap. I connected the management port to my data subnet and the other two GigE ports on the back of the unit to my SAN. Considering the 720i has only one power supply, it's good that the onboard management software can also monitor a UPS.