Last month storage firm Adaptec launched a storage array based on Serial-ATA disc drives which links up with the company's ASA-7211 iSCSI card to let users run an iSCSI San on a standard Ethernet network. The idea behind the Adaptec product is to offer users a way to construct a San based on low-cost PC disc drives, Serial-ATA technology and Ethernet network equipment.
Eric Sheppard, research manager at analyst firm IDC, said as the Serial-ATA drives and Ethernet switches used by Adaptec were less expensive than fibre channel drives and switches, an iSCSI San could potentially be better value.
The savings come from the choice of technology. The cost per gigabyte of Serial-ATA products is much cheaper than drives based on SCSI or fibre channel technology. But fibre channel drives operate at higher speeds, which give users faster access.
IDC said the cost per gigabyte of a Serial-ATA drive operating at 7200 RPM was 77p. In contrast, the cost per gigabyte of a SCSI/fibre channel drive ranges from £2.36 for a 10,000 RPM product to £2.84 for a 15,000 RPM version.
But in a paper published in October, Forrester Research analyst Bob Zimmerman said, "Until prices are more competitive and diagnostic tools more widely available, iSCSI is a research and development issue."
Adaptec's iSCSI product is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises that have traditionally been put off by the cost of fibre channel Sans.