IBM Turns to LSI for SAS

New low-end systems feature SAS, with iSCSI and SATA versions to follow

January 17, 2007

5 Min Read
Network Computing logo

In a move that shows the full-scale arrival of Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) storage, IBM is revamping its low-end storage platform, starting with two systems OEM'd through its partner LSI Logic. (See IBM Unveils SAS Systems.)

IBM today said it will begin shipping the DS3200 and DS3400 entry-level SAS systems at the end of the month as the first members of its new DS3000 family. Both are based on LSI products.

The DS3200 is a rebranded version of LSI Engenio's 1333 system announced in December with SAS connectivity to the host and storage. (See Sandvine: Xbox, iTunes Grow .) The IBM DS3400 is the LSI Engenio 1932 system, also announced by LSI today, with 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel connectivity to the host and SAS on the back end to the storage. (See LSI Rolls Out New SAS System.)

The systems support single- or dual-controller configurations supporting 12 SAS drives for 3.6 Tbytes, and customers can add up to three 12-drive expansion enclosures. Pricing starts at $4,495 for the DS3200 and $6,495 for the DS3400. IBM is targeting them at SMBs and departments of larger organizations.

The systems replace IBM's DS300 iSCSI and DS400 Fibre Channel systems, which IBM sold through an OEM deal with Adaptec that was plagued with production problems. (See IBM Launches iSCSI SAN.) The SAS systems also extend IBM's relationship with LSI, which supplies IBM's DS4000 midrange SAN systems.IBM manufactures its own upper-midrange platform -- the DS6000. The vendor also makes its own DS8000 enterprise SAN and rebrands Network Appliance NAS and SAN systems.

David Tareen, IBM storage product manager, says the DS3000 platform will expand to iSCSI and lower-cost SATA drives. "There are a number of items on the DS3000 road map, and iSCSI is one of them," Tareen says. The next rev of the DS3000, due around mid-2007, will likely include iSCSI, Tareen says.

He wouldnt say where the iSCSI systems would come from. LSI does not currently manufacture iSCSI SANs. IBM does offer iSCSI connectivity with NetApp systems, so it could use NetApp for its low-end IP SANs. Another option is to offer iSCSI software from another vendor on its hardware -- similar to what Hewlett-Packard does with LeftHand Networks. (See LeftHand Runs on HP.)

LSI and IBM see SAS as an alternative in low-end systems for customers who want better performance than SATA drives but don't want to pay for Fibre Channel.

SAS has taken a bit longer to get going than expected, certainly longer than SAS component vendors such as LSI, Adaptec, and Vitesse had anticipated. (See Adaptec Adds Controllers and Vitesse Boasts SAS Shipments.) Industry sources say interoperability problems pushed back releases of several systems. LSI's systems were expected earlier last year. Network Appliance executives said last November that their planned SAS system from their OEM partnership with Dot Hill has been pushed back.There was some SAS action last year, as smaller vendors such as Infortrend, Overland, and Promise rolled out systems, and iSCSI vendors EqualLogic and StoneFly added SAS to their product lines. (See Infortrend Subsystem Qualifies, Overland Ships Raid System, Promise Showcases VTrak, EqualLogic Mixes SAS, iSCSI, and StoneFly Enhances Products.)

But it wasn't until LSI brought out its 1333 and 1331 systems in December that larger vendors got into the game with SAS RAID systems. Sources say Dell's PowerVault NX1950 launched in December is based on an LSI controller, and SGI uses LSI for the InfiniteStorage 220 RAID system also released in December. (See Dell, Microsoft Team on NAS-Plus-iSCSI and SGI Intros RAID Array.) Industry sources also expect Sun to bring out a system based on the LSI controller.

Hewlett-Packard has SAS servers and is planning SAS storage arrays. EMC says it is evaulating SAS but hasn't provided a timeframe for using it in arrays.

IDC analyst Dave Reinsel expects SAS to make strides this year but not to approach the installed base of Fibre Channel in storage systems.

"The bottom line is, we'll see SAS gaining momentum in 2007 with sustainable growth, but not surpassing Fibre Channel anytime soon," he says. "It has taken a bit of time because there are a lot of pieces that need to come together. Another decision that had to be made by system OEMs was whether or not to transition a product line to 2.5-inch SAS or to keep moving forward with 3.5 inch SAS."For now, SAS storage systems are sticking with 3.5-inch drives. Seagate today announced 2.5-inch SAS drives, but they are slotted for servers first. (See Seagate Intros Smaller Drives.)

"They will be moving to storage arrays eventually," says Gianna DaGiau, Seagate's marketing manager for enterprise computer business. "It's just a matter of time."

The biggest hurdle for 2.5-inch SAS drives in storage arrays is capacity. The first 2.5-inch SAS drives only hold up to 73 Gbytes -- half of the largest capacity of the 3.5-inch drives. Also, the 3.5-inch SAS drives are compatible with SATA drives, and Tareen says the DS3000 will eventually support SAS and SATA in the same system.

— Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Infortrend Technology Inc.

  • IDC

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL)

  • Promise Technology Inc.

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)

  • StoneFly Inc.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights