National Storage Rip-Off Day

by Administrator on January 8, 2008

Just posted at The Register:

  • EMC is releasing its low end Clariion AX4 SAS/SATA array with 3TB capacity for $8600.  It ships with four 750GB SATA drives (which you and I could buy at list for $239 per unit).  So, if the disk drives cost $956 (presumably far less for EMC), that means buyers of the EMC wares are paying about $7700 for a tin case, a controller/backplane, and a 4Gbps iSCSI or FC connector.  Hmm.
  • Dell is offering EMC’s AX4-5 with same configuration for $13,000 adding a 24/7 warranty. 
  • NetApp StorVault scales to 4TB at $3000 per TB.
  • HP StorageWorks 12000 is $8759 for three TB.
  • HDS has SMS 100 starting just under $5K for 1 TB, up to $15K for dual controller configurations.

All vendors claim that these products/price points are appropriate for the small to medium business. The information presented mentions nothing about RAID levels or actual usable capacity.

By contrast, and just for giggles, a Zetera NBOD 1u tray with spaces for 4 1TB SATA drives is $2,500.  A 2u tray with space for 12 drives is $6K.  You can source the drives yourself, resulting in a 4 TB array for $3816 (@$329 per 1 TB SATA) or $9928 for 12 TBs, or $827 per managed TB.


Storage guys aren’t the only rip-off artists out there of course.  Check out what Network Solutions is reportedly doing:  registering any domain you search so they can sell it to you at whatever price they want.  The posters suggest that we all go pile on phony domain searches to get NSI to register a lot of bogus domains for nothing.  Too bad we can’t do the same with storage.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jhutchins January 9, 2008 at 10:45 am

If you haven’t seen the Hifn Swarm, I’d check it out (and no, I’m not a Hifn pimp). For a street price less than $25k, you get Hifn Swarm 3300 includes (15) 750GB drives, 11.25TB RAW capacity, 9.75TB useable, RAID 6 configuration, 3U Rack mount enclosure, 3xGbE iSCSI host interface, 3 hot swap power supplies, U320 SCSI backup connection and Point-In-Time Snapshot VSS. The nice thing about a Swarm is that you can do SAN and NAS, you can connect a tape drive/loader off the back and even install your backup software right on the box (although a good argument could be made to put it on a separate backup server – but it’s an option to save server costs if thats what you really want to do).

jhutchins January 9, 2008 at 11:22 am

I take back Hifn recommendation – it’s not a fair comparison.

Jon, I think you are comparing apples to oranges with the Zetera box. I couldn’t find anything about storage management or replication on their data sheets and I’m assuming it’s raid 5 (data sheet doesn’t say). I’m a big RAID 6 biggot and like SAN/NAS functionality so i think it’s ina different class than the Zetera stuff.

han_solo January 9, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Too bad that junk your peddling is lame windows only stuff…sorry but no Linux support in this day and age means “junk” that belongs on a CompUSA shelf, not anything that would compete even with the lowest end Clarion or whatever REAL array.

khildin January 10, 2008 at 6:27 am

How can you compare a simple boxed set of harddrives with a SAN? What about disaster recovery sollutions? What about restore options? What about defining multiple volumes and luns AND manage them?

The EMC/NetApp/Equallogic/etc… sollutions are not a box with harddrives where you just add the value of the drives + the price of a simple container to keep them together.
Ranting about Rip-offs is so easy when you compare a mini to a mercedes. As a sysadmin I gladly pay for software and support. It makes me happy (less timeconsuming and much easier to maintain) and it makes my customers happy (better performance and possebilities to even restore a file/folder of an hour back instead of 1 or 2 days)

Administrator January 10, 2008 at 9:46 am

RAID levels supported by ZSAN should be commented upon by Zetera. They are capable of some interesting tricks, and given the lower cost of the solution, you could deploy a simple RAID 1 mirror without costing as much as the EMC stuff.

Han, I agree wholeheartedly that a robust solution should support all OS’s. However, survey after survey suggests that the primary apps used by most SMBs are Windows apps. I like Linux too, but we all know about the troubles in that paradise with a proliferation of proprietary builds that are hobbling just about anyone who wants to plug and play across all versions.

Folks, I am not suggesting that you rip and replace with Zetera (though they might like that idea), only that the so-called value add that comes with a logo isn’t really adding enough value to justify the additional cost. At least not in my humble opinion. Look at Hifn or even Promise if you are looking for a more conventional set of wares. Why pay for a Hummer when you can get the Tahoe for $40,000 less and it is the exact same vehicle except for the brand name and body style?

I know we have been impressed by brands before, but the rules are changing in a recessionary economy. We need to start thinking outside brands and more about what we are trying to accomplish with our bucks.

Administrator January 10, 2008 at 9:59 am

Thank you, khildin, for your input and welcome to DD. I think you have hit one nail on the head. Brand vendors are counting on you to choose the road to nirvana that you describe — to buy a one stop shop solution so you don’t need to concern yourself with storage issues. As long as your shop stays small and you stick with homogeneous infrastructure (all from one vendor), it sounds very inviting to go with the flow, pay a few extra bucks, have everything under the hood.

The problem is that (1) you are spending too much for what you get, (2) your environment will not stay small forever (if your business model is sound), and (3) you will eventually be ill served by one size fits most, which doesn’t fit your apps very well, and will need to go heterogeneous.

When that happens, you will need separate data replication schemes for each box you deploy if you are doing DR, and because these vendors will not let you replicate across disparate boxes (e.g. from different vendors) you will be looking at have to replicate infrastructure on a one-for-one basis in your recovery site. Having developed over 100 DR plans, I can caution you that such a strategy is both unweildy and a pain to maintain, and prohibitively expensive. Management will not like it, you will not like it.

My recommendation is to save money where you can and spend it where you must. You make your own decisions about what this means. To me it means this:

Everyone is selling the same box of spinning rust. Look for cost savings.

“SANs” are marketecture not architecture. Everything I have seen so far, except for ZSAN, is direct attached storage pure and simple. Select the interconnect that best meets the needs of your application.

Buy hardware agnostic management tools: spend your money here so you can expand infrastructure in whatever way you require, flexibly, and still manage it via a single pane of glass.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

woofpack4life January 11, 2008 at 11:36 am

Not to mention that all these “rip off” vendors have spent an extraordinary amount of time ensuring compatability/support with Microsoft/VMWare/Linux/Oracle, etc. You can go “cheap”, but you get what you pay for, and when looking at the TCO, I’m sure you really don’t come out all that much better (and possibly worse) when you factor in the ongoing support/outage issues that inevitably arrise.

jhutchins January 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Time and money: VMware charges $30k ****PER SKU**** to certify a solution

Administrator January 13, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Please see my next post.

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