Adaptec Snap Server 700i Series provides iSCSI performance, scalability leap

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iSCSI got a boost today with Adaptec’s addition of the 700i Series Snap Server appliances, which adds vertical iSCSI scalability up to a possible 36TB with a mix of SATA and SAS disks. From day one it also supports Windows, VMWare and Linux.

This gives Adaptec the edge over its direct iSCSI competitors in several respects.

Market faith in iSCSI is growing because it provides good performance with a much lower price tag than fibre channel (FC) and without most of the complexity that comes with FC connection.

However, Adaptec has further boosted performance by introducing a new Linux-based operating system: OnTarget OS. Don Chouinard, Adaptec’s systems storage group director of marketing told me: “This takes access straight down to blocks to utilise the Adaptec RAID card [hardware RAID SAS controller]; it effectively pushes the operating system to one side.”

This, he said, dramatically increased performance for iSCSI (only) with benchmark tests showing three times competitive raw performance as well as better price-performance on a like-for-like model comparison in most cases.

If you then feed in the 700i’s clear lead in vertical scalability—with the ability to add capacity on the fly—and greater flexibility in supporting any mix of fast SAS and lower cost SATA disk there are reasons to think Adaptec could have a high-seller on its hands—as long as supporting iSCSI alone is no problem. In this regard, Chouinard confirmed that Adaptec had no plans to phase out the long-established Guardian OS used by the other Snap Server models which also supports NAS (CIFS, NFS and AFP).

Of particular interest to MS Windows users running applications such as Exchange, SQL Server or Oracle is the ability to run synchronous mirroring between two Snap Server 700i series appliances connected to the application servers through an IP SAN; redundant Gigabit Ethernet cabling plus switches will then maximise uptime for high availability. Plans for mirroring in a Linux environment should reach fruition in the first half of next year.

Another Windows positive is provision of accelerated backups not involving the application servers if MS VSS hardware snapshots are stored on the 700i and exposed to a backup server on the IP SAN.

There are three 1U high rack-mounted models. The 720i provides 1 or 2TB SATA drives, 730i 3TB SATA and the 750i 1.2TB 15,000 rpm SAS drives. Expansion comes through adding a 2U Adaptec SANbloc S50 chassis, each chassis housing 12 hot-swappable SATA or SAS drives. Estimated US pricing range is $8,000 (1TB 720i)–$23,300 (1.2TB SAS 750i with 4 GigE network ports).

Set-up wizards will simplify set-up reduce deployment time while snapshot software, bundled with each model, can be used to auto-schedule recovery points throughout the day.

All in all the 700i range looks to be neat and uncomplicated while also potentially blowing the performance socks off competitors in its price range.