Reldata Adds Wizardry to Storage Gateway

A set of wizards should speed up configuration and maintenance of NAS and SANs

February 12, 2008

3 Min Read
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As storage networks get more complicated, managers are trying to make them simpler. And Reldata has taken a step toward meeting that demand by introducing a set of wizards for its 9240 Unified Storage Gateway.

Since the 9240 virtualizes back-end storage for a range of disk array vendors, Reldata thinks it's a logical place for users to find help in assigning LUNs, setting security and performance parameters to storage, and allocating the correct amount of iSCSI storage to specific applications.

"Storage is doubling every 18 months. Can storage administrator productivity double every 18 months? No!" says Reldata CEO David Hubbard. The answer, he says, is in leveraging existing resources, namely staff and equipment.

The wizards play right into Reldata's value proposition, which is to create a pool of IP storage from multiple available storage gear. Each 9240, for instance, comes with six 1-Gbit/s Ethernet ports, two Ultra 320 LVD SCSI ports, and two 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports, among other interfaces. There's also an optional 10-Gbit/s Ethernet link for SAS connectivity. Block- and file-level data is fed into the 9240, where it is virtualized for distribution across an IP network.

Reldata also sells systems equipped with integral storage, which the vendor says can also interact with heterogeneous arrays.One early adopter says the Reldata wizards, which are now part of the vendor's RELvos 2.2 operating system, have helped him train new users. "The wizards have probably saved me a couple of minutes, since I've been doing this for so long, but the value to me is in training other people," says Jay Vocaire, systems administrator at Innovative Process Administration, a benefits processing outsourcer.

Vocaire uses Reldata boxes beside multiple arrays from EMC and Nexsan. The Reldata gear enables failover and remote replication for the company's 14 Tbytes of disk storage. Vocaire also uses Reldata to snapshot data every half hour.

While Vocaire can move quickly through the old-fashioned manual assignment of LUNs to servers, many other staffers can't. By offering step-by-step menus to guide the untrained, Reldata's wizards take 95 percent of storage configuration tasks off his hands, he says, freeing him for other duties.

Figure 1: One of the Reldata RELvos 2.2 wizards for the 9240 Unified Systems and Gateways.

Figure 2: Another Reldata wizard.

Reldata's not alone in trying to simplify iSCSI for SMBs and SMEs. iSCSI vendors have traditionally played up the ease-of-use of their gear relative to Fibre Channel. In particular, EqualLogic has made ease of setup and maintenance its battle cry.

Reldata's acknowledging its rival but claiming to make things even simpler. "EqualLogic has simplified iSCSI. We take that to a new level," CEO Hubbard says.

One EqualLogic reseller says Reldata's interface is now at least comparable to EqualLogic's. "We added Reldata to our line of products for those customers that also had NAS or heterogeneous storage," says Jamie Borst, manager of Scale Datacom, of Londonderry, N.H., in a prepared statement.

A challenge for Reldata and its growing roster of competitors, including LeftHand Networks, Sanrad, and Stonefly, is the mounting emphasis placed on lower-end iSCSI systems by larger suppliers like NetApp, EMC, and Hewlett-Packard. With those vendors engaged in a price/features war for SMB customers, it's likely smaller fry like Reldata could easily be displaced in some shops at the right price.

Reldata's wizards with be generally available in February at no extra cost to existing 9240 customers. The latest pricing for the 9240 series starts at $35,000 to $45,000 for the gateway. A system with about 2 Tbytes of integral SAS storage starts at about $60,000. A system with 9 Tbytes of integral SATA storage starts at about $65,000.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Reldata Inc.

  • Sanrad Inc.

  • StoneFly Inc.0

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