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10-Gig IP SANs Hit Bleeding Edge

A couple of small IP SAN players looking to get on the map are rolling out 10-Gbit/s Ethernet systems as users ponder whether the time is right to implement them yet.

Nimbus Data this week will unveil an IP SAN that supports 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, a week after Xiranet did the same. Nimbus, a 20-person outfit based in San Francisco, has been shipping entry-level IP SANS for about two years now and is looking to move up to the midrange. (See Nimbus Nips Into iSCSI .) Xiranet, an eight-person startup based in Germany, is rolling out its first systems with hopes of taking advantage of high-speed connectivity. (See Xiranet Goes Native and InfiniBand Natives Stirring.)

The Nimbus MX4 and 10G systems are unified iSCSI SAN and NAS midrange systems, ranging from 1.5 Tbytes to 55 Tbytes of capacity. (See KPMG Reports on Services.) The systems include an Ethernet switch with up to 48 gigabit-Ethernet host connections. The MX4 has four GigE ports on the back end, while the 10G system includes one 10-GigE port.

The 10-Gbit/s connectivity is not the only difference between Nimbus' offering and its previous product line. The new systems include SAS and SATA drives. Customers can mix drive types and RAID levels on the same backplane. With starting prices of $20,000 for the MX4 and $35,000 for the 10G, Nimbus positions its new wares as lower-priced midrange alternatives to systems from EMC, Network Appliance, EqualLogic, LeftHand, and Intransa.

But CEO Tom Isakovich says the 10-Gbit/s capability is more than window dressing. "We've been getting requests for ten-gig," he says. "The time is right. iSCSI used to mean it's cheap but it's slower, but not anymore."