5 Storage Vendors That Boldly Go ...

By Kenneth Hess

What are you looking for in a storage solution? Are you looking for high performance, reliability, optimization for particular workloads, scalability, stingy power consumption or a low entry price?

There's a solution for every need from your favorite storage vendors. From centralized management to automation to innovative technologies, storage is no longer the yawn-inducing topic of yesteryear. Storage is one of the hot data center topics. Virtualization, private clouds and disk-based backups have tossed storage and discussions of storage into the center ring. More valuable than dilithium crystals and rarer than rubies, space is the final data center frontier. These five vendors will help you further explore the strange new worlds of enterprise storage.

1. EMC

If there's another company name that's as synonymous with storage as EMC's is, it would be hard to find it EMC (NYSE: EMC) is the 800-pound Gorilla in the data center and it wants to be the only silverback in the Troop. And, there's little doubt that if you're running a data center, you have EMC storage arrays somewhere in it. With EMC's extreme line-up of enterprise storage solutions, you can't possibly go wrong with products such as Celerra, CLARiiON, Connectrix, Centera, Isilon, and Symmetrix. The very mature (fourth generation) CLARiiON storage array products cover the entry-level and midrange requirements for companies moving to SAN-based solutions. CLARiiON arrays support both Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity. This line covers a wide range of storage solutions for the potential customer from a few terrabytes in the AX series up to two petabytes in the CX series. And, if you're wondering about EMC's dedication to virtualization and cloud computing, you should know that it is the parent company of VMware, the world's leader in virtualization software solutions. EMC holds strategic partnerships with the list of who's who in the global support realm: Accenture, Deloitte, Fujitsu, Perot Systems, Tata Consultancy, Unisys and Wipro to name a few. Additionally, EMC partners with Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and others in their technical alliances. EMC delivered more than 50 petabytes of solid state disk capacity in 2010 to its customers. That 50 petabytes is more than the collective delivery capacity of all other SSD manufacturers.

2. HP

HP (NYSE: HPQ) placed itself into the server virtualization storage market when it purchased LeftHand Networks. Its SAN solution offers "screaming fast performance" using a patented architecture at a low price point per gigabyte. HP is the world's largest technology company that covers the technology gamut from personal computing to enterprise data center management. At the high-end of storage, HP offers its StorageWorks X9000 Network Storage Systems that scales from a few terabytes to multiple petabtyes with no downtime and in the same namespace (up to 16PB). The HP X9000 delivers superb performance, modular design, extreme scalability and cost-efficiency. One of the most compelling features of this solution is the capability to set storage policies so that less active automatically moves to less costly storage. The X9000 solution also features dynamic load balancing to reduce storage bottlenecks and ensure that your data is always available. The X9000 solution supports the following file serving protocols: CIFS, NFS, NDMP, HTTP/HTTPS, FTP and SFTP.

3. IBM

"You never get fired for buying IBM," goes the old saw that probably originated decades ago within IBM's own walls. But, it's as true today as it was then. IBM (NYSE: IBM) has a big picture mentality that not only takes its products into account but everyone else's as well. IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center for Fabric provides support for heterogeneous SAN fabrics from every major manufacturer. So, what's so special about IBM's SAN products? Sure, they're reliable, scalable, powerful, blazingly fast and so on, but its products derive their edge with cost efficiency at an unexpected level: Power consumption. The SAN768B and SAN384B products reduce power and cooling needs to a bare minimum, making your data center more efficient and less costly to maintain. How efficient are they? Try less than one Watt per Gbps. That kind of efficiency plus 99.999 percent uptime makes IBM solutions an easy choice.

4. Oracle

What's better than an Oracle database to handle your mission-critical, data-centric workloads? Your oracle database running on a Sun Storage Array that's optimized by Oracle for that workload. It's true. If you need an unbreakable Oracle database, excellent performance, replication, snapshot, persistent cache backup, and volume copy to protect your data, then you should call Oracle's 800 number. Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) purchase Sun and Sun's impressive hardware line. Oracle has done great deal of work to integrate its database software and Sun's hardware into a premier business solution. Whether you're hosting business-critical applications or supporting a data warehouse, your good night's sleep is a guarantee with an all Oracle solution. No, it isn't the least-expensive solution in the marketplace, but you knew that before you chose Oracle. If you're looking for the absolute best solution for your enterprise database environment, finish dialing Oracle. However, if you're looking for cheap, hang up and dial another number.

5. Texas Memory Systems

Texas Memory Systems and its RamSan product line might be the best product you've never heard of. What's a RamSan, you ask? It is a 10GB/s sustained throughput, 500 Watt, SSD storage powerhouse. But these aren't ordinary SSDs, they're high-density flash chips, and they're setup with board-level RAID. Board-level RAID ensures no single chip failure will result in data loss. Single-Level Cell (SLC) Flash memory has a 10-fold greater endurance and reliability over other flash chip architectures. So, what does a Texas Memory Systems storage solution look like under the hood? As an example, the RamSan-630 has a capacity of 10TB, 1024 LUNs, SLC Flash, 10GB/s maximum bandwidth, 8GB/s Fibre Channel port speed, 1 M IOPS (read and write) with a read latency of 250 microseconds and a write latency of 80 microseconds. The RamSan line also features management via browser, SSH, Telnet and SNMP.

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.

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This article was originally published on April 08, 2011