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iSCSI SANs Compared

Inside The SnapServer 720i

Inside the SnapServer 720i we found a single core 2.6 GHz Opteron with 1 MB L2 cache and 1 GB DDR400 memory. As already mentioned, Adaptec deploys its own RAID controllers, in this case an ASR-4800SAS, which allows the attachment of additional external hard drives. The basis of this design is very powerful, as it enables using each of the three GbE ports for three different iSCSI initiators, providing each of them access to the same set of hard drives or different ones, depending on your RAID configuration and storage provisioning. If you think of the SnapServer 720i flanked by a SANbloc S50, you’ll have access to sufficient hard drives to saturate all three GbE iSCSI connections.

All fans are redundant, and the power supply unit can optionally be redundant. RAID support is defined by the ASR-4800 SAS controller, and includes RAID levels 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50 and 60 as well as hot spares. There is a battery backup unit to preserve the state controller’s cache memory for up to 72 hours, which protects cached data in the event of a power failure. Since the basis of the SnapServer is a conventional PC, it was easy to offer the two USB 2.0 ports. These can be used to have the system talk to a UPS unit for an additional level of protection against power failures.

While the feature list, performance and flexibility are tremendous, the cost for Adaptec’s premium iSCSI SnapServer 720i is equally significant. The 2 TB version costs a whopping $ 11,490, only includes a three-year warranty, and 24/7 technical support and other warranty upgrades are only available at extra cost. Yes, the package is mighty, and probably one of the most flexible solutions on the market today. Considering that the hardware behind a SnapServer 720i is not worth more than $2,000 at retail, though, the pricing seems a bit over the top, and creates quite a barrier for small businesses that typically don’t have twelve grand to spend on storage. As you can imagine, the SANbloc S50 storage expansion modules aren’t exactly bargains either. Clearly, Adaptec represents the luxury brand in the iSCSI segment.