BY DAVE SIMPSON
According to a number of end-user surveys, high cost has become the number one impediment to adoption of storage area networks (SANs). Dell hopes to change that with bundled SANs, introduced last month, at starting prices as low as $45,000 for full configurations.
Representing the fourth generation of the company's SAN rollouts, Dell's bundled configurations include all the hardware and software required for an entry-level SAN, but it's the low pricing that should draw interest from end users, according to industry analysts.
For example, the $45,000 PowerVault SAN 4.0 configuration includes four QLogic QL220 host bus adapters (HBAs), two Brocade switches, 250GB of Fibre Channel-based disk array storage (Dell's new PowerVault 660F array), management software, and support for two servers. A $90,000 configuration includes 12 QLogic HBAs, two switches, 800GB of array capacity (scalable to 7TB), software, and support for six servers. Analysts say the pricing is less than half that of comparably configured SANs from Dell's competitors.
"We're targeting end users who have been reluctant to deploy SANs because of the high cost of entry," says Bruce Kornfeld, director of storage product marketing at Dell.
The PowerVault SANs are limited to Dell's storage subsystems and to servers from either Dell or Compaq (up to 20 servers per SAN). Operating system compatibility is limited to Windows NT/2000 and NetWare, with support for Linux and other Unix variants due in the future.
Dell's PowerVault SANs are based on Fibre Channel HBAs from QLogic, switches from Brocade, Dell disk subsystems, and servers from either Dell or Compaq.
The PowerVault 660F is fully redundant, with no single points of failure, and includes 14 Fibre Channel disk drives (500GB) per 3U rack unit. Users can configure more than 7TB in a 42U enclosure.
Packaged software includes the company's Open Manage Array Manager for RAID configuration and volume management, Open-Manage Storage Consolidation for logical unit number management, Power-Suites tape backup software (from Computer Associates or Veritas), and support for Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS).
According to the Gartner Group consulting firm, Dell ranks number two behind Compaq in installed SANs, and International Data Corp. ranks Dell number six in overall storage revenues, with almost $1 billion in revenue this past year.