While storage area networks (SANs) have always been on the midmarket CIO's radar, adoption rates among IT departments have been slow -- too complex and too costly, they say. But recent announcements from two major players in the market are likely to stoke the fires of interest in SANs among midmarket CIOs.
Network-attached storage (NAS) is hard disk storage that has its own network address; it isn't attached to a computer supporting other network applications. A SAN is a high-speed special-purpose network that connects different kinds of data storage devices with associated data servers on behalf of a larger network of users.
Because SANs are easier to use and manage than they were just a few years ago, they are becoming an alternative to NAS, said Greg Schulz, an analyst at The StorageIO Group in Stillwater, Minn.
And with storage needs among midmarket organizations growing at an alarming rate, coupled with compliance and security demands, CIOs are looking for affordable solutions that can give them more flexibility in their storage infrastructure.
While manufacturers are getting a lot of play out of marketing their SANs as easier to use and less expensive to operate, there is some meat to their pitches, experts say.
So it should come as no surprise that SANs are gaining interest among midmarket CIOs. In fact, a recent survey from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. found that 75% of midmarket IT executives polled were already using, planning to use or considering iSCSI SAN.
Earlier this week, Dell announced its EqualLogic PS5000 iSCSI SAN arrays, starting at $19,000 with scalability up to 57.6 terabytes (TB) on the smallest model and 192 TB on the largest. They are the first new storage products since Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic Inc. earlier this month.
HP recently announced it would update its iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN arrays, known as the Modular Smart Array 2000, and make them available next month. Pricing starts at about $5,000 with scalability to 36 TB.
That ease of use is key to iSCSI SAN's growth in popularity, said Mark Peters, an analyst at The Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass.
"The point about iSCSI is not just that it bears an attractive price, but that it is usually wrapped in easy-to-use-and-manage systems," Peters said. "And it is the latter aspect that is equally compelling for the smaller and midsized operation."
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