One thing you can say about Nexsan: this is not a shy company. Naming products ATAbeast, ATAboy and SATAbeast shows a relish for putting your best foot forward and then some. The new SATRAbeast array uses .... wait for it ..... serial ATA drives. There, wasn't that a surprise?

You get a beastly 21TB in 4U of rackspace.

How much?

Twenty one terabytes, using 42 spindles.

Wow! That is a beast of an array.

You can have the spindles in multiple RAID sets or in one large virtual disk.

Nexsan SEVC Diamond Lauffin - the SEVC stands for Senior Executive Vice President by the way - my, how these titles get embellished. Presumably a mere VP moniker is the title for the sales reps these days. Anyway he reckons: “The combination of price, performance and built-in safety features makes the SATABeast a force to be reckoned with.” Well he would, wouldn't he. He's an SEVPbeast.

And if he's an executive VP what's a non-executive VP? Similar to a non-executive director perhaps.

SATAbeast uses MAID concepts, first introduced by Copan, to cram many more disks into such a space than normal. The bulk of them hold data but are not spinning. They only power up when data on them is needed to be read or written. This radically reduces the heat generated and the cooling needed by such a number of drives.

Nexsan states its drives are idle but active - paradoxical this - presumably like non-executive VPs? When a disk is spun up does it become actively active or just more active?

Stop it. You're a responsible jourmalist. Enough of this mockery - and so 'AutoMAID delivers the cost-saving benefits of MAID without the limitation of slow access times and special host software. Nexsan’s AutoMAID is granular to the individual drive level and enables users to determine access times and the level of energy savings desired. AutoMAID automatically monitors and performs regular integrity checks of all idle drives in the array.'

Nexsan also says, hopefully, that its SATABeast is 'ideal' for 'primary and near-line storage, disk-to-disk backup, secondary storage and fixed content archive applications.' Hmmm. I think that really means it's okay for everything but primary storage. SATA drives are generally reckoned not reliable enough for primary storage uses. That requires Fibre Channel, SCSI or SAS drives. No doubt the nifty Nexsan people will soon bring out a SASbeast to get over that minor problem.

In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised if they bring out a SAS/SATAbeast and provide a multiply-tiered array, an ILMbeast. Add in iSCSI access and they have a SANbeast too. Attaboy Nexsan.

Poking fun aside the technology is impressive; 'there are triple intake fans paired with two redundant 760-watt power supplies with tachometer-monitored blowers.' I'm sorry, let the fun poking resume. 'Tachometer-measured blowers'? Is this a new way of measuring marketing people, by the speed of the hot air coming out of their mouths?

Seriously now
Copan has established the market for this kind of product. It radically pushes back the boundary of disk storage technology into the tape library space. You get tape library-like information density and near-disk restore speeds.

Copan's Roger Archibald, VP of Marketing and Biz. Dev. says: "We are pleased to see that another vendor in the storage industry has recognized the potential of MAID."

Copan by the way is set to announce a major strategic alliance with a large and leading storage supplier. Who can that be? Sun perhaps? The UK's Met Office uses a Copan system to front end a large StorageTek library. ADIC maybe?

Copan's products are used by ten of the Fortune 500. Capacities range from 28 to 224TB with 250GB SATA drives and throughput can reach 5.2TB per hour. That's unprecedented I think. You can get a Fred Moore white paper on the Copan kit here, after filling in a few details.

I mentally position Copan's MAID products in the enterprise space and Nexsan's in a rung below that. The technology looks impressive. Information density is simply unparalleled. Restore time is quicker than from a tape library. If you have a need to access archive data regularly and consistently then both Nexsan and Copan should be on your supplier radar screen.