EqualLogic Tops Offs SAS Series

iSCSI SAN vendor touts performance for higher-end customers

February 19, 2007

3 Min Read
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EqualLogic is determined to show that iSCSI SAS is as good, or better, than Fibre Channel. Six months after launching its first SAS-based products, the vendor has unveiled the PS3900XV, representing a new high end in its product line.

The PS3900XV, which will ship March 12, supports 4.8 Tbytes of capacity in 300-Gbyte SAS disks that spin at 15,000 rpm -- the speed of Fibre Channel disks. It's the third in the vendor's series of PS3900 products, which includes the 4.8-Tbyte PS3600X, equipped with 10,000-rpm SAS; and the PS3800XV, which also supports 15,000-rpm drives but tops out at 2.3 Tbytes of capacity. (See EqualLogic Mixes SAS, iSCSI.)

"This system is clearly positioned for intense database-type applications," says EqualLogic marketing VP John Joseph. He sees the PS3900XV at home in Oracle, SQL, and VMware applications. And he claims it can outperform FC-based arrays from EMC, HP, and NetApp.

For now, EqualLogic's claims for drive speed and efficiency lack any independent verification. But at least one customer is pleased. Alan J. Hunt, operations manager at Dickinson Wright PLLC, a Detroit-based law firm, says it's no longer necessary to give up capacity for performance, since EqualLogic's new SAS systems are based on larger drives.

Hunt, whose network holds roughly 70 Tbytes of raw data, has been using EqualLogic SAS arrays for several months for important client data and disk-to-disk multisite backup. And he's not the least bit interested in Fibre Channel."[EqualLogic's] product hit at the right time, and it's been maturing... Performance is way ahead of what I need," Hunt says. He has deployed 11 of EqualLogic's PS200E SATA-based arrays, addressing the storage needs of 600-odd client machines and over 100 servers across several sites. He has two of the vendor's PS3600X arrays (which support 10,000-rpm SAS drives) in a separate tier. "My current PS3600X arrays are used for my heavy and random I/O applications such as SQL, Lotus Notes, SAN boot, and terminal server," Hunt maintains.And he's ready to start looking at EqualLogic's higher-end 15,000-rpm drives, of which the PS3900XV is the latest.

One of the key selling points for Hunt has been EqualLogics offering of its load-balancing and virtualization capabilities across all arrays. The systems, Hunt says, can load-balance performance for him. Adding arrays takes under a half hour. And switching RAID functions can be done on the fly, without interrupting service. All of these features weren't available in the Fibre Channel systems he looked at several years back, Hunt says.

While EqualLogic has been able to wedge itself into the good graces of users like Hunt, competition is heating up. Nimbus and StoneFly Inc. also offer SAS-based iSCSI systems. LeftHand Networks' SAN/iQ runs with IBM x3650 SAS-based servers. And a range of other announcements are in the works.

What's more, EqualLogic still faces the perception that SAS, like SATA, is a lower-performing alternative to Fibre Channel -- and priced higher than SATA.

To fight that battle, EqualLogic has priced its new system as close to its original SAS-based systems as possible: $67,000 is the starting price for a 4.8-Tbyte system equipped with 15,000-rpm drives. This compares with $65,000 to start for the 2.3-Tbyte PS3800XV.The PS3800XV was priced roughly $20,000 more than an EqualLogic system with 4.8 Tbytes of SATA drives. So the price-to-capacity ratio is now evening out a bit more.

If EqualLogic's new system can prove out among midrange customers, it may help to push the profile of iSCSI farther up in the enterprise food chain -- a goal that this particular supplier is bent on achieving.

— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Nimbus Data Systems Inc.

  • StoneFly Inc.

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