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I'm pricing SANs and the cheapest I can find are 36k; we're limited in our department to 25k in purchases before they go for approval. I'd love to get rid of tape backup, as they are cumbersome and unreliable.

Can a SAN be had in the 20k range?

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closed as too localized by Mark Henderson Jan 13 '12 at 4:42

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How much data do you have to backup? Lots of storage systems exist for less then $20k, but may not be fast enough or large enough depending on your required capacity. –  Zoredache Sep 15 '10 at 21:21
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I hope your SAN will be offsite. If it isn't and there's a fire, you're going to be looking kinda silly. –  ThatGraemeGuy Sep 15 '10 at 22:19
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Ahhh-- the whole disk versus tape religious debate again. Properly handled tape is very reliable, and can be taken offline much easier than disk. There are many people who subscribe to the beliefs that real backups are both off-site and offline. Having your backups on live, spinning disks is a great way to allow a malicious attacker to trash your backups right after they trash your production data. Hacking across the air gap of a tape in a secure storage vault is a bit more difficult. –  Evan Anderson Sep 15 '10 at 23:10

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This will handle up to 16TB over iSCSI with fault-tolerance using 2TB off-the-shelf drives, grand total with drives is about $4500, depending on where you buy the drives:
http://www.drobo.com/products/droboelite.php

I wouldn't use it for my VMWare machine space (though it is VMWare certified), but it might do for backup and would definitely handle simple file storage.

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I just made the decision to go this route except I went a little bit smaller. I got two Drobo FSs one for backups stored at the main site and an rsynced copy to be at a secondary site. I figure drive capacities will grow faster than what we will be using at my company. I asked prior to purchase to confirm that the Drobo will support the larger drives along the way. With data dedupe on the backups this should allow for a very nice retention period. –  PHLiGHT Sep 16 '10 at 2:05

You should check out Idealstor - http://www.idealstor.com/Bantam.php. The Bantam is their RDX competitor but they also have removable disk systems that utilize larger server drives and have a 16TB solution.

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They certainly can, but it all depends on how much space you want in it, and how willing you are to put up with iSCSI. FibreChannel disk arrays can rarely be had for less that $25K. You can get/make iSCSI SAS-based arrays for less then that. With the right port aggregation and usage patterns you can exceed 1GbE throughput to these guys. The advent of 6Gb SAS means you can scale pretty car.

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Sure, you can get a SAN for under 25K if you are going the iSCSI route. You'd be cutting it a bit fine to get a fibre channel SAN for that price, because whilst you can afford the fibre disk array, you'll be adding the cost of FC switches and HBAs which are always more expensive than the iSCSI equivalents.

You mention that this is for backup, in which case another way of keeping your costs down is to cram your array (let's say it's iSCSI for the sake of argument) with big SATA drives instead of buying speedy SAS drives at three times the price and a quarter of the capacity.

But even then, an iSCSI SAN with SATA is not necessarily going to solve your problems. It depends on your backup requirements i.e. your industry. A lot of companies require long term archiving, or at least an offsite backup solution, areas in which tape has traditionally given acceptable performance.

If you need offsite backup (who doesn't?) a compromise would be using RDX drives. The big vendors (HP, Dell, IBM) sell them, they are relatively cheap, fairly scalable, they are a lot more reliable than tape, and according to reports (e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/15/1_5tb_sff_drive/) pretty soon an autoloader will be available for them. They are just ruggedised hard disks, so you benefit from random access, and easier data recovery. The only drawback is that at around 30 MBs transfer they are slower than LTO tape and slower than an iSCSI SAN with a bunch of SATA drives.

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Disk is no more reliable than properly handled tape, and isn't tested (and proven) for long-term retention like tape. RDX is wildly expensive per GB of storage-- much more than tape. –  Evan Anderson Sep 15 '10 at 23:08
    
Long term storage of tape is not a given - the LTO standard is being refreshed every 3-4 years (performance in other standards is not worth considering) so you have to retain old, out of warranty hardware or transfer your data onto new media. Admins working with 15 year long retention (e.g. in healthcare) duly plan for this. Is that what you mean by proper handing, or were you refererring to tapes climate controlled storage needs? Tape becomes more economical than RDX for offsite DR at around 15-20TB of retained data, probably a few years away for a company purchasing it's first SAN. –  Mark Lawrence Sep 20 '10 at 21:54

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