Overland Storage launches iSCSI SAN with hooks into VMware and Hyper-V

The first product released by Overland Storage Inc. under its business turnaround plan is the Snap Server SAN S2000, an iSCSI SAN targeting small businesses.

Overland Storage Inc. this week launched the Snap Server SAN S2000, a new iSCSI SAN with VMware Inc. vSphere and Microsoft Corp. Hyper-V virtual server integration, and automated provisioning features starting at $15,000.

The storage area network launch comes as Overland looks to re-establish itself as a competitor in the enterprise data storage market following a downward spiral since it lost its most lucrative OEM tape deal with Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. in 2006. Earlier this month, Overland CEO Eric Kelly went on a media tour to explain Overland's new business strategy, which will emphasize Snap Server NAS and SAN as well as low-end tape and disk-based data backup and recovery products.

The Snap Server SAN S2000 and accompanying E2000 are based on the Snap OS Overland acquired when it purchased the Snap Server NAS platform from Adaptec Inc. in 2008.

Overland is hoping to differentiate itself in the growing but crowded iSCSI SAN market with software management features, including a unified management console for all Snap products. Management of Overland's backup products remains separate.

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The Snap Server SAN S2000 also includes a VMware Inc. vCenter plug-in with an automated mirroring feature built in to let customers set up an active-active mirror between two iSCSI LUNs for automated failover of virtual machines.

Snapshots and replication are also included with the S2000, and are integrated with Microsoft Corp.'s Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) to quiesce and produce transaction-consistent snapshots of Windows applications. However, replication hooks are not built in for VMware yet, and VMware snapshots are limited to crash-consistent snapshots of the Data Store with this release.

Customers running Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Hyper-V can also use wizards to set up mirroring, replication and automated capacity extension. The automatic capacity extension, which lets customers can set policies to automatically expand capacity when a certain threshold is reached, is also available for Linux, Mac, Novell, and Unix operating systems. However, Overland technical marketing manager Joe Disher said, "To be quite honest, [the LUN expansion process in] Windows is most difficult for administrators."

An additional Overland-designed wizard automates the steps needed to ensure the Windows server's view of an expanded LUN is consistent with the back-end iSCSI SAN's provisioning, Disher said.

LUN expansion isn't quite the same as thin provisioning, according to Disher, because it doesn't allow for oversubscription. LUN expansion still carries some of thin provisioning risk of running out of physical capacity, but "I don't think many customers will hit that limit," Disher said.

Overland doesn't match the more advanced replication and snapshot features in iSCSI SAN systems sold by Dell/EqualLogic and HP's LeftHand Networks -- particularly when it comes to integration with VMware. However, IDC analyst Benjamin Woo said Overland is targeting a lower end of the market with the S2000. "Products like EqualLogic's target the higher midmarket," he said. "They're also an order of magnitude more expensive."

Moving forward, Woo said Overland should continue to focus on integration with Windows and Hyper-V. "It's less about every last feature being enabled and more about the customer base and creating bundles for channel resellers," he said.

The Snap Server SAN S2000 is available for an MSRP starting at $14,995. The E2000 12-drive expansion unit is also immediately available for an MSRP starting at $2,995. Both chassis can be populated with SAS or SATA disks, and the S2000 with E2000 expansion shelves can scale up to 120 TB.

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