iSCSI SANs Compared

Enhance Tech EnhanceRAID T8 IP

Though based on the same iSCSI fundamentals as Adaptec’s SnapServer 720i, the EnhanceRAID T8IP by Enhance Technology is a completely different product. The most obvious difference is the form factor: it doesn’t fit into a 19" rack server, but rather is a pedestal appliance that looks like a mid-size PC tower. Since it requires just power and an Ethernet connection it can be placed anywhere. It hosts as many as eight drives, which makes it more flexible in terms of capacity than the base product from Adaptec.

Enhance Technology also offers rack mount solutions: the R4 XP1000 is a 1U solution for four hard drives, the R6 XP2000 hosts six drives and R8 XP2000 was designed for eight hard drives. They all support multilane GbE connections, but they’re limited to two network ports, compared to three or four with Adaptec. Enhance Technology does not offer redundant power supplies or the other enterprise-class features, and all iSCSI appliances are compatible with SATA, but not with SAS. We intentionally looked at the EnhanceRAID T8 IP despite the very different positioning, because it is probably one of the most attractive solutions for iSCSI starters: it’s relatively inexpensive, yet quite flexible.

For a direct comparison with Adaptec’s SnapServer, we used the same four Western Digital RAID Edition hard drives. Enhance Technology doesn’t offer a management utility; configuration has to be performed through the web interface, which worked well. The device offers three Gigabit network ports; one is purely for management, while the others can be used for iSCSI traffic. The rack mount versions can be expanded by daisy-chaining several units via SATA daisy chaining, but the pedestal appliance EnhanceRAID T8 IP cannot be expanded. This is probably the most significant disadvantage when compared to Adaptec, although Enhance Technology also lacks features such as snapshots.

Despite the limitations, the feature set is still comprehensive: email notification, online capacity expansion, hot spares, multiple RAID volumes and support for dual parity RAID 6 are available. While Adaptec utilizes serious server hardware, Enhance Technology runs its EnhanceRAID T8 IP with an Intel IOP80331 storage processor featuring 512 MB of DDR333 RAM.

The warranty period of two years is shorter than what Adaptec offers, and the overall impression we got was only average after knowing what Adaptec can do with its SnapServers. However, the real argument for small business owners is price: the EnhanceRAID T8 IP is only $1,750 as a barebones unit. If you add the same hard drives that we found in the SnapServer 720i, you’ll still be well below $2,500. That is less than a quarter of the price of the Adaptec solution, but gives you the option to use twice as many drives or provide twice the storage capacity with the base product. There is no upgrade path, but the investment may amortize quickly just because of its low cost.

Let’s look at the benchmark results.