Vendors Re-evaluate Midmarket SAN

Brad Wenzel, president and CEO of Wenzel Data, a Stillwater, Minn.-based solution provider, said vendors are using software to add enterprise-level capabilities to their lower-cost hardware. "Through software, [they can] provide more uptime than they can just with their hardware," Wenzel said. "Most errors in this market are due to people, not hardware failures."

Even so, said Wenzel, there is a lot of hype surrounding the word "enterprise" in the midrange space. "Whenever I think enterprise, I think high availability, including five-nines uptime," he said. "Are [these products] actually bringing five nines?"

John D'Errico, executive vice president of the Storage and Communication Group at Milpitas, Calif.-based LSI Logic, said significant drops in SAN pricing this year will make the technology more attractive to a broader base of small and midsize customers.

The moves, however, are likely to further retard the adoption of iSCSI solutions, D'Errico said. "I think iSCSI is going to happen," he said. "But it's not going to be as soon as people thought, or [be] as big. And it's certainly not going to put Fibre Channel out of business."

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Several new products demonstrate how vendors are looking to cut SAN costs. QLogic, Aliso Viejo, Calif., is bundling an eight-port Fibre Channel switch with four host bus adapters, software, cables and drivers for Microsoft Windows, Solaris, Linux and NetWare, for $6,999.

LSI Logic plans to release this quarter new software with enterprise-class features aimed at easing the deployment of SANs for midsize businesses. The software, named MyStorage, includes remote management capabilities so all LSI Logic host bus adapters in a SAN can be monitored and problems can be diagnosed via a single console from anywhere on the network.

Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Emulex just started showing its LightPulse LP101, a Fibre Channel host bus adapter for midsize businesses featuring its new AutoPilot software suite with a GUI that eliminates detailed SAN terminology.