Sanrad Aims Small

Switch vendor targets departments, opens questions about design

January 21, 2004

3 Min Read
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ISCSI vendor Sanrad has unveiled products for small businesses and departmental users, highlighting the momentum building in that sector (see Sanrad Intros iSCSI V-Switch 2000).

The news reflects two trends emerging in the iSCSI space. First, small is beautiful: IP SANs are being targeted to remote sites that may not need or want costlier Fibre Channel equipment. At the same time, architectural choices are emerging about just where the smarts of an IP SAN should reside.

Let's start at the top. Sanrad's offering a smaller version of its V-Switch, which uses iSCSI to link storage devices and host servers, creating virtual drives that can be accessed and managed via IP.

Sanrad's new box is the V-Switch 2000, a smaller version of its higher-end V-Switch 3000. Like that product, the V-2000 is capable of handling input from 256 servers in 68,000 volumes of storage. But the V-2000 has two ports, where the V-Switch 3000 has four. The price is a bit lower, too: The V-Switch 2000 starts at $12,500 without an accompanying disk array, whereas the V-3000 starts at $15,000.

The part about the optional array is key: Sanrad's claim to fame is that it works with any kind of storage, because its virtualization software is located in an iSCSI switch, not in the storage hardware. If customers want disk storage, Sanrad says its reseller partners can provide ATA RAID arrays along with the switch.Size also is key. "We don't do bonecrushing enterprise stuff," says VP of market development Zophar Sante. "What we're saying is that SANs are for everyone else who couldn't afford or understand Fibre Channel."

Other vendors, too, say the place for iSCSI will be the small department, replacing NAS or DAS with IP-based, remotely connected arrays, versus massive, data-center-based Fibre Channel setups. What they don't agree with Sanrad on is the location of virtualization intelligence.

"We do virtualization fully contained in the storage array," says John Joseph, VP of marketing at EqualLogic Inc. His company just started a channel program to address the need for departmental customers, where he sees IP SANs offering longer distances and more cost-effective management compared with Fibre Channel (see EqualLogic Boasts OEM Program).

Another competitor, LeftHand Networks Inc., also put virtualization software directly in its storage drives, which VP of marketing Tom Major says reduces the chance of having one single point of virtualization failure in a network switch. He grants, however, that customers looking to create switch-based iSCSI networks can deploy redundant switches.

One element that may affect how virtualization plays out in future deployments is Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which is also lining up behind the switch-resident approach.Who will win out? It remains to be seen. But clearly, the issues being argued indicate that iSCSI is at least starting to appear in sufficient volume to raise the questions.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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