Apple’s Xserve RAID makes inroads in the storage marketplace

“The success of the iPod has garnered most of the plaudits for Apple in the past year. Its digital music player is a must have on most teenagers wish lists. Its 5.6 ounce box contains 40 GB of music – enough for 10,000 songs,” Drew Robb reports for Enterprise IT Planet. “Though not as high profile as the iPod, another Apple product – Xserve RAID – has seen the company make inroads in the storage marketplace. Containing up to 14 hot-swappable drives and up to 5.6 TB of data in a rack-optimized storage enclosure, Xserve RAID combines Ultra ATA drive technology with a 2 Gb Fibre Channel interface. It is the companion product of the Apple Xserve, a server platform that is now selling over 10,000 units a quarter, according to Gartner Group.”

“‘Because of the integration points between Xserve and Xserve RAID, it is a viable alternative to NAS and web appliances,’ said Gartner analyst John Enck. ‘This box plays well in any environment that has a good deal of heterogeneity in the client and server environment.’ Xserve comes with up to 8 GB RAM, a 1 GHz front side bus and a 2 GHz 64-bit IBM G5 processor. Although it runs on Mac OS 10.3, Xserve RAID also works well with Windows-, Linux- or NetWare-based servers. You can buy a 1 TB, 2.8 TB or 5.6 TB RAID box. In terms of cost, the 1 TB box costs $5,999, 2.8 TB costs $8,499 and 5.6 TB costs $12,999. This makes Apple storage among the cheapest on the market. It works out at about $2 per GB,” Robb reports.

“Each unit comes with 7200 rpm Ultra ATA drives, a dual controller, and 400 Mbps FC in a 3U form factor. Each 7200 RPM hard drive connects to a dedicated Ultra ATA drive channel to eliminate bottlenecks and maximize the 400MB/s Fibre Channel host connection. Indicator lights on the front panel display status for power cooling, RAID controllers and enclosure lock. 46 blue LEDs display activity levels for each host channel, and Fibre Channel indicators show link status,’ Robb reports. “The previous version utilized only software RAID. The latest version of Xserve RAID, however, includes a hardware RAID card. These boxes can be arranged in RAID 0, 2, 3, 5, 10, as well as other configurations like RAID 30 and 50. Under RAID 5, you get 800 GB and RAID 0 gives you 1.2 TB per unit.”

Robb reports, “‘The Apple storage solution is very strong — both in terms of functionality and value,’ said Enck. ‘I think the attach rate between Xserve and their storage products will be reasonably high. However I don’t think customers will be attracted to Apple based on the storage products alone — I think they come in the door looking at Xserve and leave with Xserve and storage.'”

Full article and information about Apple’s Xsan, the upcoming 64-bit SAN file system, here.


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