Dell makes Sans mainstream

High hopes for AX100, which targets remote departments and workgroups

Dell is planning to make storage-attached networks (Sans) mainstream with the release of its AX100, aimed at remote departments, workgroups and enterprises smaller than the top tier.

Made up of integrated components from EMC, QLogic and Brocade Communications Systems, the resulting San will provide fast access to consolidated data storage, with each connected server having access to its own part of the San's disc storage.

The San will cost less than £6,000 ($10,869) and Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said the AX100 is of interest to "more than one-third of Dell's addressable market".

Fibre Channel Sans have, traditionally, been expensive to buy and operate, requiring expensive adaptors and a fibre channel network and fabric switches.

However, the AX100 will scale from 480GB to 3TB and is easily set up with Wizard-based tools. It can be configured in just four steps.

"Dell is bringing enterprise-class capability to a low-cost entry-level San solution, while providing an ease of management and configuration that should alleviate any doubt that FC Sans can be in SMB/SME environments," said Rollins.

Such an approach counters the view that fibre channel Sans are expensive, hard to implement, configure and use. EMC head Joe Tucci said: "What we're providing is a San environment for the price of what used to be direct-attached."

Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said the product was developed because customers wanted to implement "a San that is both low cost and easy to use. Customers can support it themselves. Customers that are not IT professionals can manage it ongoing".

The Dell/EMCC AX100 includes dual controllers and mirrored cache to provide higher availability. It comes in a 2U rack unit with up to 12 SATA drives and the bundle includes a Brocade 8-port Silkworm 3250 fabric switch (dual 2Gbit/s ports), QLogic QLA 200 HBAs and management software for provisioning, automated failover and snap-shot capability.

Supported servers include Windows, Linux and NetWare. There is a limit of two switches in the integrated bundle, meaning the San can scale to 6TB with two AX100s.

The Dell/EMC AX100 is available as a direct-attached (San ready) configuration for £3,499 and in a San configuration for £5,899. The low prices put immediate pressure on competitors IBM and HP to respond with equivalent products.

Dell will also supply backup and replication software from EMC's Legato division; Networker Dell Edition and RepliStor Dell Edition respectively.

Networker Dell Edition costs £,2864 and is available now. RepliStor Dell Edition will be available later this year. These products are available from Dell across both the AX and CX array product range.

Chris Mellor writes for

Read more on IT strategy