Dell is set to launch its first networked serial-attached iSCSI (SAS) drive array. It will offer up to 6TB of capacity to small and medium enterprise customers and be a SAS alternative to its EMC-supplied AX150i.

The product is expected to be launched next month and will be based on the existing PowerVault MD3000 product with iSCSI connectivity added to it.

Confirmation of the product's pre-launch existence comes from a Dell technical support web page listing products for which support is available. The PowerVault MD3000i is in the list of selectable products.

The PowerVault MD3000 is a direct-attached, 15-drive, serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drive array offering between 0.5TB and 6TB depending upon the disks chosen; either fast small ones or slower high-capacity ones.

Dell already has an iSCSI drive array product, the EMC Clariion-based CX3-10 SAN array for its SME customers, and introduced in February. This provides up to 5TB capacity with SATA or 18TB with Fibre Channel (FC) drives and can attach by either Fibre Channel or iSCSI. It accompanies the CX3-20 (59TB), CX3-40 (119TB) and CX3-80 (293TB).

The PowerVault MD3000i is in the same product space as Dell's EMC-basedAX150i with its 750GB-6TB capacity range. But it uses SATA drives, not SAS ones.

SAS drives provide near-Fibre Channel disk speed and provide increased I/O bandwidth compared to parallel SCSI technology.

Suppliers such as EqualLogic and Left Hand Networks are having success selling iSCSI arrays, so much so that EqualLogic has filed for an IPO. Both provide SAS as well as SATA drives.

It looks as of Dell wants to offer a low-end starter SAN array with SAS drives but EMC couldn't oblige. Dell, with its current rush to get lustre back into its results after the Rollins departure couldn't afford to wait.

Dell was unable to comment about the MD3000i but did confirm that CEO Michael Dell would be making a storage announcement in San Francisco on September 10th.