Nexsan Gets SASsy, Intros SASBoy Array

Serial SCSI

The SASBoy uses the same 3U chassis as Nexsan's SATABoy array, with the primary difference being the use of 300-Gbyte, 15,000-rpm SAS hard drives, said Bob Woolery, senior vice president of marketing for the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based storage vendor.

It's not only a good move for the channel, but it's also one that Nexsan had to do to expand the market for itself and its solution providers, said Ashby Lincoln, president of VeriStor Systems, an Atlanta-based storage solution provider and Nexsan partner.

"Nexsan already has a big SATA installed base," Lincoln said. "It has a good foothold with SATA. Now to be able to go in to a customer and talk SAS for applications like fixed content, email, file servers, print servers, Web servers, and others where faster performance can help, will be a big hit."

As with its SATABoy and SATABeast products, Nexsan is delivering products at a price point with features that no other vendor can match, Lincoln said. "We're already calling our Nexsan customers and telling them that they can have new technology from a company they know and a product they know."

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The increased performance of SAS hard drives over SATA opens solution providers up to more opportunities, said Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider and Nexsan partner.

"We can start talking about VTLs (virtual tape libraries) and dedupe appliances writing to higher-speed devices," Knieriemen said. "Our customers use the SATABoy now. This opens us to more users."

The SASBoy also blurs the line between primary and secondary storage, Knieriemen said. "We have customers looking at Fibre Channel and SAS drives for their performance in use either with primary storage or frequently-accessed secondary storage," he said.

The SASBoy includes Nexsan's AutoMAID (automatic massive array of idle disks) technology, which reduces energy use without compromising application performance, Woolery said.

AutoMAID can be set to turn down power to or shut down hard drives which have not been accessed for a customer-specified time to reduce overall power usage. They can be set to three different levels, including level 1, which gives a response time of under 1 second; level 2, which gives response time of 15 to 20 seconds; and level 3, which offers response times of 30 to 45 seconds.

All three levels are well within the time-out period for data information requests as specified by the Fibre Channel protocol, which is 60 seconds to 120 seconds, Woolery said.

The response times can be set for the entire array or for a specific group of disk drives in the array, he said.

"For fixed content or for secondary storage, often hard drives are not being accessed," he said. "With this feature, customers get the performance of SAS with the capability of shutting drives down to save power."

The SASBoy is currently available. It comes with a minimum configuration of two iSCSI and two Fibre Channel ports, a single controller, 1 Gbyte of cache, and three hard drives for a total raw capacity of 900 Gbytes. A typical configuration including 14 hard drives for a maximum of 4.2 Tbytes per chassis costs about $6,800 per Tbyte, Woolery said.

A version of its array mixing SAS and SATA in the same enclosure can go into production based on customer demand, but to date this has not been a must-have in terms of customer purchasing decisions, Woolery said.