Storage Area Networks are the smartest way of handling storage in small and medium-sized businesses, by deploying storage systems via Ethernet into your IT infrastructure. Adaptec's SnapServers are strong, but others such as Enhance Technology are on the hunt. We compared David and Goliath in the world of iSCSI.
Nice article. It would be nice however to include more products, the two products used now cover only a really small area of the iscsi market, so I'd like to see more commercial products in the comparison. It would also be nice to include a home build iscsi server to see if the commercial products are really so much better.
I build an iscsi target with an old 19" server, put in a LSI logic or Adaptec sas controller, gentoo linux with IET (iscsi enterprice target). a procase 2U disk cabinet (IPC-C2E-BAR50-XPSA21-1X EXPANDER) with 8 500GB WD Raid SATA disks. We are running now for about one year connected to our existing Vmware ESX3 servers with Fibre SAN to add low-cost storage for less critical and less performance dependent data and were happy, it is stable fast and dirt cheap compared to commercial solutions.
If you are not too familiar with linux I would recommend OpenFiler, its linux with IET and a web interface integrated.
Or you could use Novell Open Enterprise Server and run Netware 6.5 of Suse Linux Enterprise Server as a iSCSI target.
Microsoft offers Windows Storage Server if you really want Windows on your SAN, but I can hardly imagine you would want that, but its nice for testing and getting to know iscsi if your only familiar with Windows.
I liked the article too, but it was thin on the software running the targets. I would have liked to have seen additional info on the way you expand storage to volumes, what filing system is used, & how to check for errors, graphical charts, and failover.
I found NexentaStor which is a virtual NAS/SAN product built on solaris. It uses zfs and has a theoretical storage capacity of 16 petabytes. The free version allows up to 6TB of storage. zfs is an amazing filing system and has many features I'm just beginning to grasp, but it is very fault tolerant. Essentially NexentaStor is simply a vmware virtual machine that you can run on anything that vmware server will run on. You use vmware virtual hard drives to create your volumes and then the NexentaStor software to create zpools and targets. It has a great web interface and graphs. Also, if you have another NexentaStor NAS, you can create an autosync connection where only the data that's changed goes over the wire, and other fault tolerance features. Using big boxes offsite could eliminate backups to tape if only for archival purposes. I guess Stanford uses the software for their graphic arts dept. Because the NAS is virtual, moving it to better hardware in the future seems painless, rather than having to rely on an Adaptec warranty.
You could have the free NextentaStor NAS, running on free VMWare Server, running on a free linux box, where the only thing you pay for is hardware. Plus you have a hugely robust web-based software solution probably much better than Adaptec's software.
I see it as a proprietary iscsi killer, but then again, the server is only as good as the hardware it's running on and I'm not sure someone could build the same grade hardware as Adaptec...