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Storage battle has begun: SAN vs SATA



I was reading this March 2 Article from SQLMAG and came across this pilot which a couple of guys from Microsoft were doing. Utility computing or pervasive computing is going to change a lot of things forever. OK we've heard all that before but what does it all have to do with SAN and SATA. Well Utility services has better be cheap. So ask yourself this:
  • Do I pay too much on your electricity bills, water bills, garbage, gas ? Well OK the prices do rise once a while, they are not exorbitant!
  • How does Amazon S3 Web Services Program offers space to attract developers, prices as cheap as 0.15$ per Gigabyte! (thinking of it I pay 11 euros for 4G at my current ASP), for the same money I should be getting 100G space!!!! (I have signed up for that Amazon S3 Web Services Program BTW, you too should go ahead and try it)
  • Why don't my Company costs go down at all?
  • Why do I keep ending up on discussion table with vendors who only want more money?
  • As a developer/enthusiast (like myself) you'd want to do all the enterprize level work and even dare to get into the TPC with your storage solution which could cost you 2000$ for a mere 1TB! Yes you read it correctly!1TB! I'd go totally nuts doing almost everything on that loads of space and pack it all up in my own built server and run a enterprize scale application for a large multinational!

But still technologies like Storage and particularly SAN do not come at a low cost. Well if you want a decent 700mb/sec to 2 Gbps sequential I/O you better have the dough to shell out. It costs anywhere between $500,000 to 1 Million dollars!!!

You pick up a server and start adding components to it. So lets pick up a server.
  • A typical 64 server with 32G memory, 4 dual core AMD Opteron = 25,000$ (max)
  • 100 500Gb SATA 7200 Disks = 15,000$
  • HBAs
  • SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) expanders (technology to watch against SCSI, a typical SAS expander lets you attach bunch of SATA disks into the board using infiniband cables)
  • Disk chassis and other peripherals.
I'm not going to elaborate o how to build it. All in all you're spending 50,000$. Now go compare it with the $1.5 Million SAN + Support for the cool tools and lot's more. I'd just put $2 Million. Choice is easier. But sure there maybe traps but lets look at the benefits...
  • This typical DAS (Direct Attached Storage) offers speed that will put that expensive SAN speeds to shame. So neat performance. And besides I've had some issues with SAN on other shops which I saw were gone the minute I tried it on DAS. Don't take my word for it, try it out yourself.
  • Money saved is money earned.
  • Amazingly fast Disks I/O's. Use tools like IOmeter (OK I know it's Intel made), IOzone among others.
  • Money saved is money earned.
  • Money saved is money earned.
Now think of start up Storage vendors (Newisys, for instance) gatecrashing the party and selling storage real cheap. Ok so they have couple of SATA channels (they also sell stuff like SAN etc if you still are in habit of shelling out more) and SATA cabled directly to drives (DAS).

Now I'll go ahead and install a ESX 3.0 on top of it and then go ahead a create a hosting environment and offering multiple installations of either 64 bit Windows 2003 or 64 bit RHEL 4.3. And then go ahead and start offering cheap services for the masses. People from all over the world can start logging in for a limited period of time and
  • start building their VMware appliances (myth TV, Asterisk, AJAX WebApp suites...)
  • Testing Oracle 10gR2 RAC
  • Testing Linux Clusters
  • Experimenting with 4 node Exchange Clusters
  • Building GRIDS
Anything. So you see the ramifications of such a revolution. Exciting times ahead, indeed!

More reading:

  1. SAS vs SATA Comparison
  2. Intel's *Whitebox* SAN

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