Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) love the cost savings and new found flexibility that server virtualization offers their organization. Yet when they start uncovering all of the costs associated with implementing the networked storage infrastructure needed to support their virtualized server infrastructure that joy can quickly fade away. It is those SMEs despairing about these virtual server storage costs that should look to the new Overland Storage SnapSAN S1000 as a way to rekindle their passion for virtualization.
Entry level storage arrays are probably one of the fastest moving and most dynamic segments of the storage industry right now. Yet it is SMEs who are adopting server virtualization that are largely driving the innovation in this space. As they implement server virtualization, they are almost universally implementing networked storage to support their newly virtualized environments.
The challenge that SMEs are running into, however, is finding entry level storage arrays that meet their technical needs without breaking their budgets. It is common for many of the application servers targeted for virtualization to currently use internal or direct attached storage. As such, the cost of these drives is probably one tenth to one fifth of what a networked storage solution with a comparable amount of storage capacity would cost.
The natural tendency among SMEs is then is to identify an affordable entry level storage array to address these concerns. However using an entry level storage array in the sub-$10,000 range is rarely an option as these systems may lack one or more of the following features:
- A choice of disk drives. Entry level solutions typically only offer SATA disk drives but SMEs may also be looking to virtualize more performance intensive applications such as Microsoft Exchange or SQL Server. To do so, they need higher RPM SAS disk drives that will deliver the performance these applications need.
- A choice of storage protocols. Entry level storage systems with iSCSI Ethernet connections abound. However when it comes to finding storage systems that support higher performing Fibre Channel storage networking interfaces, they are almost non-existent in this space.
- Virtual server OS certification. Most products in the entry level storage space support virtual operating systems but those that are also certified with the leading virtual server OS providers (which is needed if you ever want support from that OS vendor) is surprisingly small.
- High availability. This may be the largest deficiency of entry level storage arrays as many only offer one controller. But when SMEs virtualize their servers, they are betting their business on high availability so they need storage arrays that match their business requirements.
This is the virtual gap that the recently announced Overland Storage SnapSAN S1000 fills in the entry level storage array market. The SnapSAN S1000 has many of the features found in enterprise midrange arrays but, with a starting price of $6,995 for 4 TB’s of iSCSI storage, is one of the first entry level storage arrays to have enterprise characteristics that today’s SMEs need.
- The S1000 supports a mix of three (3) drive types including SAS, SATA and Green SATA drives. While the S1000’s support of SATA is no surprise, the S1000’s support of SAS is definitely a plus as users can configure RAID groups with those drives and then assign those groups or LUNs to high performing applications.
Further, Overland Storage’s decision to support Green SATA drives that can be spun down when the application is not accessing them should also resonate with SMEs. Archiving data to disk is a fast growing trend across all size organizations, and SMEs are not excluded from it. The S1000’s support of Green SATA drives now gives SMEs the option to archive data on disk that keeps their costs down over time.
- It offers FC storage network connectivity. While it is unclear how many SMEs may need or want FC, the S1000’s support for FC opens the door for it to find its way into enterprise accounts that may already have FC SANs but want to cost-effectively introduce extra storage capacity into that environment.
- It offers an Active-Active controller configuration. The Active-Active controller configuration of the S1000 is probably the one feature that sets it apart from most other entry level storage arrays. Granted, when configured as Active-Active, the S1000 will run more than the advertised $6,995 price point as that price is based on a single controller configuration. But in this configuration, SMEs can create a highly available storage system at a much lower price than to what they are accustomed to seeing.
Further, the S1000 gives SMEs the option to start out with one controller and then scale to two at some later point should they need it. This puts the S1000 in a class of its own among entry level storage arrays.
- The S1000 is certified with all leading virtual server OSes. Every SME knows that at some point it is eventually going to need support for their environment and, odds are, that support call is going to somehow involve the OS provider. Therefore the last thing any SME wants to tell them is that they are using storage that is not certified with their OS. To Overland Storage’s credit, it has already addressed these concerns with the S1000 by certifying it with Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
Server virtualization is probably one of the most exciting technologies to happen to SMEs in a long time as it opens the door for them to create enterprise like computing environments on SME budgets. But to do that, they need the right infrastructure to deliver on that vision.
Up to now, the storage infrastructure has been somewhat of a hindrance in realizing that dream as they oscillated between the cost savings associated with internal or direct attached storage and the feature functionality of networked storage systems.
The Overland Storage SnapSAN S1000 largely addresses those concerns. By bundling enterprise features into the S1000 and then putting a very attractive price tag on it, SMEs now have access to a storage solution that meets both their technical and budgetary requirements for their emerging virtualized server environments.