New Take on Storage Appliances

Arthur Cole

Not too long ago, storage appliances were simple little devices handy for quickly adding a few gigabytes whenever the need arose. But those days are gone. Now enterprises have a wide range of appliances geared toward general-purpose storage and specialized operations.

While appliances were traditionally considered low-cost, low-power options, some of the latest devices are carrying that trend to new extremes. agami Systems recently launched the agami Information Server, combining AMD Quad Opteron 64s with up to forty-eight 500 gigabyte Western Digital SATA drives that can be configured for up to 24 terabytes using about half the power of a full network-access system.

Quantum, meanwhile, is targeting its latest virtual tape library appliance at deduplication, backup and archiving operations. The DXi7500 delivers up to 240 TB of storage, offering dedupe services at about 8 TB per hour. When tied to the smaller DXi3500 and 5500 systems, enterprises can avoid tape backup at remote sites.

New companies also are bringing existing technologies together in novel ways. A startup called Caringo has developed a USB device that provides Content-Addressable Storage by turning fixed-content files into unique objects. The company claims improved duplication elimination, management and data integrity.

Better networking capabilities also are in demand for storage appliances. Intransa Inc. has developed an IP SAN appliance capable of 10 GbE connectivity using Neterion's Xframe iSCSI adapter. The StorStac PCU100 offers up to 180 TB with a blistering throughput of 3000 Mbps. The device supports up to 240 disk drives and a 4 GB cache.

Even with these new capabilities, appliances likely will continue to serve primarily as adjuncts to centralized network architectures. But the more powerful they become, the more likely it is that you can put off expensive network upgrades.

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