Arrow distributes first IP SAN bundle

By Lisa Coleman

Arrow Enterprise Storage Solutions is distributing an IP storage area network (SAN) bundle based on iSCSI products from Adaptec and Network Appliance. This is the first iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA) and native iSCSI target configuration available to resellers through a major distributor, according to Adaptec officials.

The IP SAN market got a shot in the arm this year when the iSCSI standard was ratified and a variety of vendors started shipping iSCSI products, including disk arrays, software drivers, host adapter cards, and bridges/routers. Users cite low cost as the primary reason for choosing IP SANs over Fibre Channel SANs (see "Low cost lures users to IP SANs," InfoStor, October 2003, p. 1). Typical pricing for entry-level IP SANs is less than $20,000, say analysts.

Arrow's IP SAN is based on Network Appliance's FAS250 "unified storage system" with 250GB (scalable to 1TB). Two Adaptec 7211 iSCSI HBAs plug into the FAS250's PCI slots. The HBAs offload iSCSI and TCP/IP processing to reduce CPU utilization and increase the performance of network storage applications. The bundle is priced from less than $13,000.

The Adaptec-NetApp IP SAN takes advantage of HBAs with hardware accelerators, instead of using software initiators, to improve CPU utilization and increase server application use, says Glenn Clowney, director of strategic marketing for Adaptec's storage networking group.

The advantages of using an iSCSI HBA include low CPU utilization (less than 10% in the case of Adaptec's HBA) and running multiple applications on one server, including backup, says Clowney. "By putting an HBA into a server and reducing CPU utilization, users can run multiple applications or even run more of one application than they could with a software initiator," he adds.

Arrow's Adaptec-NetApp IP SAN is targeted at small to mid-sized enterprises and will compete with other IP SAN product vendors such as EqualLogic, Intransa, SANRAD, and StoneFly Networks, says Clowney. However, Adaptec's initiators also work with EqualLogic's and StoneFly's products, he says.

While Arrow is distributing the bundle exclusively, the Adaptec-Network Appliance relationship is neither exclusive nor a partnership, says Clowney.

Arrow is not currently distributing any other IP SAN bundles but will offer other bundles based on its resellers' needs as more iSCSI products are released, according to Arrow officials.

In other IP SAN news, SANRAD announced that it has certified its iSCSI V-Switch 3000 with Sistina Software's Global File System (GFS) for companies requiring Linux server clustering and file sharing within a SAN. SANRAD's V-Switch 3000 is an IP SAN appliance that supports Sistina's GFS by enabling multiple clustered servers to connect to and access the same storage systems, volumes, and files. Sistina GFS is a global file system that provides SAN-wide server clustering and file sharing. GFS allows any server on the SAN to read and write to any storage volume and file shared with any other server on the SAN.

This article was originally published on December 01, 2003