ServersHardware Today: Storage Explosion to Disk Array Boom

Hardware Today: Storage Explosion to Disk Array Boom

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The explosion in storage usage has resulted in a booming disk array market. To accommodate burgeoning needs, a host of vendors now offer a wide range of products, from high-end arrays that hold as much as one petabyte of data, to midsize boxes, to solutions aimed at the small business.

The explosion in storage has helped shape the booming disk array market. Options are available in all shapes and sizes from EMC, Hitachi, HP, NetApp, and Sun.

“Over the last eight years, the average annual growth of information stored on disk arrays exceeded 60 percent,” says Tom Joyce, EMC vice president of storage platforms marketing. “This year we project the growth will exceed 70 percent.”

According to IDC, the disk array market is growing at a healthy clip, although it is not quite keeping pace with the rise in storage capacity. During the past year, the market grew 18 percent. Whatever way the numbers are crunched, EMC is the market leader. In disk arrays for storage-area networks (SANs), EMC is tops with 25 percent, followed by HP (24.8 percent) and IBM (14.3 percent). Dell, which sells primarily EMC gear, accounts for 8.3 percent, followed by Hitachi (with 7.2 percent) and Sun (with 6.9 percent). In network-attached storage (NAS) arrays, EMC leads with 40.2 percent, followed by Network Appliance (35.2 percent) and HP (6.4 percent).


What is driving growth? Joyce cites less-expensive tools for connectivity and consolidation, the advent of disk-based backup, and iSCSI, as what is making it possible for small businesses to afford a SAN over IP instead of more expensive Fibre Channel (FC). Case in point, at the low-end, EMC offers the CLARiiON AX100/AX100i with either FC or iSCSI connections. It has 12 serial ATA drives in a 2U (3.5″) rack-mountable enclosure. Capacity ranges from 480 GB to 3 TB, and pricing begins at around $5,000.

In the middle of the EMC product portfolio is the CLARiiON CX500/CX500i. It holds up to 120 disk drives in 25U of rack space with a capacity of up to 38 TB. It scales to support up to 128 dual-connected hosts, and it is available for a FC or iSCSI network.

At the top of the EMC line is the Symmetrix DMX-3. Its capacity is 1,000 TBs on as many as 960 disk drives. Ports can be configured with FICON, ESCON, FC, native Gigabit Ethernet, and iSCSI. This comes at a price, however. The unit starts at $250,000, depending on the configuration.

EMC anticipates selling plenty of its lower-end boxes while continuing to do well in the midrange and high end. The size of the customer, its storage demands, and its performance needs will dictate which arrays it purchases. Further, organizations are increasingly adopting a tiered strategy storage that accommodates storage systems spanning an entire product range.

“Organizations will continue to [use] entry-level disk arrays, such as the CLARiiON AX100, to extend their information infrastructure or even deploy their first SAN,” says Joyce. “We believe customers will continue to apply a cost-effective tiered approach to their storage strategy by implementing different types of disk systems for various classes of tasks.”


The big news from Network Appliance (NetApp) concerns the FAS3000 storage systems series, which is designed to provide price/performance for midrange storage. The FAS3050 holds up to 50 TB of raw capacity and 336 disk drives

“With more and more high-end storage array capabilities now being offered by midrange storage systems, there is an emerging trend of enterprise applications like Oracle, SAP, Exchange, and SQL Server being well-served by midrange enterprise storage systems,” says Chris Bennett, senior director of products at NetApp. “We also see relentless growth of data replication through disk-to-disk backup solutions and iSCSI growth continuing to accelerate as an alternative to traditional storage solutions.”

At the low end, the company’s FAS270 can support low-cost SATA drives in production applications. It has a maximum of 16 TB and 56 drives and uses advanced RAID configurations to eliminate the risk of two drives simultaneously failing. At the higher end of the Net App range sits the new FAS980, which has up to 100 TB and 672 drives.

>> HP, HDS, Sun

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