Storage

iSCSI SANs posed a real challenge to their Fibre Channel counterparts in 2005

IP storage networking came on strong in 2005, highlighted by iSCSI SANs from EqualLogic and Network Appliance as well as smooth DAS-to-SAN migration solutions from HP and FalconStor. Don’t count FC (Fibre Channel) out of the low end yet, however, thanks to vendors such as iQstor and EMC, not to mention Compellent and MPC, whose superior starter SANs support both FC and iSCSI. For large SANs, we saw a number of standouts, including a director switch from McDATA, resource management software from AppIQ (now HP), and virtualization solutions from EMC and Troika.

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BACKUP SOLUTIONS

Data Domain DD460 Restorer 

Data Domain 

Excellent, 8.8

Bottom Line: Designed as a disk-to-disk backup target, the DD460 boasts incredible compression ratios with no impact on existing backup strategies. Admins can tighten backup windows, and the restore process is simple. A relatively small amount of storage is required to back up large amounts of data.

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Dell PowerVault 124T 

Dell 

Preview

Bottom Line: The previous Dell autoloader I looked at -- the PowerVault 122T -- didn’t wow me, but there’s a lot more to like about its successor. The 124T sports a Web-based administrative GUI (lacking in the 122T) that’s a pleasure to use; the hardware itself has a good feel; and its picker, although noisy at times, moves fast. Check it out if you’re shopping for an affordable autoloader.

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FalconStor Virtual Tape Library 3 

FalconStor 

Preview

Bottom Line: Version 3 expands VTL’s already extensive interoperability matrix, works with just about any disk array or tape library, and supports all major backup applications. One intriguing new feature goes beyond the traditional backup paradigm by creating mirror images of server disks that application-aware host agents keep constantly up to date. If running backups is getting the best of you, don’t miss FalconStor VTL 3.

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HP StorageWorks Ultrium 960 

Hewlett-Packard 

Excellent, 8.9

Bottom Line: Fast, reliable, and capable of adjusting to server speeds without time-consuming stops, the HP 960 can make a difference in many backup environments. Although pricier than its SDLT (Super Digital Linear Tape) rivals, its performance and capacity more than justify its cost.

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HP StorageWorks VLS6105 

Hewlett-Packard 

Excellent, 8.7

Bottom Line: HP enters the VTL (virtual tape library) market with a family of scalable models that aims to complement, rather than replace, existing reel-based libraries. The StorageWorks HP VLS6105 offers no-frills, quick, easily manageable online restores and faster simultaneous backups from multiple servers, which should benefit many mid-tier FC SANs. If you don’t need a slew of extra admin features but do need quick backups, the VLS6105 is just right. The price isn’t bad, either.

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Mimosa NearPoint 

Mimosa Systems 

Preview

Bottom Line: Mimosa Systems’ NearPoint for Microsoft Exchange is an e-mail archiving solution for reducing the storage used by Exchange servers and expediting auditing and archiving processes. It works without installing an agent on the Exchange server, and it keeps only one copy of each archived attachment to save space. Very granular policies determine which messages are archived, and when.

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NetEx HyperIP R5 

Network Executive Software 

Excellent, 8.9

Bottom Line: The HyperIP is a specialized, easy-to-administer appliance that accelerates and improves the flow of storage traffic across an IP WAN connection. Companies using TCP/IP WAN connections with storage applications at any rate higher than a T1 connection should investigate this solution.

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Quantum Certance CL800 

Quantum 

Excellent, 8.7

Bottom Line: The Certance CL800 is a complete desktop backup solution that offers excellent performance, good management tools, great support, and a well-respected backup application at a competitive price. The drive’s unique features promise great reliability and peace of mind in daily jobs.

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Quantum SDLT 600 

Quantum 

Very Good, 8.4

Bottom Line: Offering unprecedented speed and capacity, the tape drive is well-suited to companies with large repositories and no time to waste waiting for backups. A competitive price, home-built WORM cartridges, and backward compatibility with popular Quantum models could appeal to many customers.

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Symantec Veritas Backup Exec Suite 10.0 

Symantec/Veritas 

Very Good, 8.2

Bottom Line: Backup Exec Suite is a Windows -centric product that enables backups, data management, and data replication from a single console across a large network. It offers flexible options to protect critical data in e-mail, collaboration, and database servers, as well as desktops and portables.

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Symantec Veritas Enterprise Vault 6.0 

Symantec/Veritas 

Preview

Bottom Line: Fully integrated with Microsoft Exchange -- and soon IBM Lotus Domino/Notes -- and hooking into Veritas NetBackup on the back end, EV also supports any SMTP mail product, albeit with a more limited set of features. Administrators have complete control over when e-mail is archived, how much is archived, and to which storage tier it is archived.

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XOsoft WANSyncHA 3.71 

XOsoft.com 

Very Good, 8.6

Bottom Line: WANSyncHA offers real-time or queued replication for SQL Servers, Oracle, Exchange, and file systems. It boasts a plethora of configuration options and allows automatic fail-over and redirection of client processes as well as reconfiguration of the replica system. WANSyncHA is relatively stable and performs well under user load, but you’ll have to tune it to reduce data loss and fail-over times.

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NAS AND SAN

3PARdata InServ S400 

3PARdata 

Excellent, 8.9

Bottom Line: The InServ S400 and its bigger sibling, the S800, bring sophisticated storage technology and high performance to the table, all at competitive prices. Thin provisioning and on-the-fly changes to RAID levels make it exceptionally flexible and expandable.

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Adaptec Snap Server 18000 

Adaptec Snap Appliance 

Good, 7.2

Bottom Line: Adaptec’s Snap Appliance division has been in the low-cost network filer market for a while, providing native NFS, CIFS, and AFP file sharing. The 18000 adds the ability to serve as an iSCSI target. The iSCSI implementation is a bit awkward, however, and is missing features such as selective presentation, fail-over, and redundancy. That said, the 18000 offers a lot of features for not a lot of bucks.

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AppIQ Storage Authority Suite 4.0 

AppIQ 

Excellent, 8.8

Bottom Line: AppIQ boosts its well-respected storage resource management suite with seamless support for heterogeneous hardware, easy tailoring of the UI to multiple user roles, extremely accurate discovery and rendering of the storage network’s topology and its applications, and an effective set of provisioning tools that can easily supersede native applications.

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Apple Xsan 1.1 

Apple 

Very Good, 8.4

Bottom Line: Apple’s Xsan is not a complete data lifecycle management application, but it is a very good and reasonably priced solution to the problem of accessing massive amounts of data without shelling out massive amounts of cash. With a firm foundation from ADIC’s StorNext File System, Xsan provides true storage networking over Fibre Channel for Mac OS X clients, and supports other OSes through ADIC’s StorNext FX.

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Celeros EzSAN XR23 

Celeros 

Good, 7.2

Bottom Line: Celeros, a new player in the iSCSI market, combines Wasabi Systems’ Storage Builder OS and commodity hardware in the EzSAN XR23. The result is a very low-priced iSCSI array. Redundancy and snapshot features are absent, but the EzSAN handled well in the lab, proving to be a cheap yet effective way to add a lot of storage when redundancy and snapshot features are not necessary.

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Compellent Storage Center QuickStart 

Compellent Technologies 

Excellent, 9.2

Bottom Line: QuickStart combines extensive management features, strong performance, great scalability, and superb ease-of-use. It’s also flexible, supporting SATA and FC drives and iSCSI and FC interfaces in the same box. The high price is justified if you’ll use the system for databases, mail servers, or file servers.

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Dell/EMC AX100 

Dell 

Very Good     8.4

Bottom Line: The AX100 is a complete entry-level SAN kit, including HBAs, an FC switch, up to 3TB of storage, and cabling. The price is relatively high, but you get a lot for the money, including good management software and redundancy features. There’s also an easy migration path to higher-capacity EMC systems.

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Dell/EMC AX100i 

Dell 

Good, 7.1

Bottom Line: The AX100i is truly a low-end iSCSI SAN. Initial setup and admin tasks are straightforward, but key iSCSI SAN components, such as jumbo-frame support, are missing. Performance pales next to local disk and other iSCSI storage networking solutions. Use the AX100i for data archiving or file storage tasks only.

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Dynamic Network Factory (DNF) IPBank-E 1600 

Dynamic Network Factory 

Very Good, 8.4

Bottom Line: The IPBank-E offers a solid feature set and a lot of capacity for the price. It can’t do everything the more expensive Compellent and MPC systems can, but it offers specialized support for Windows servers. It edges out the Dell/EMC and IBM in management capabilities, which will be enough for most administrators.

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EMC Invista 

EMC 

Excellent, 8.7

Bottom Line: EMC enters the virtualization arena with a solution that runs on intelligent switches from major vendors and integrates with most popular arrays. Invista promises to preserve customer investments in fabric equipment and storage gear without sacrificing manageability, performance, or scalability.

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EqualLogic PS200E 

EqualLogic 

Excellent, 8.8

Bottom Line: EqualLogic’s PS200E is a well-designed and superbly executed iSCSI storage array, boasting clean lines, solid management tools, solid snapshot and replication features, and plenty of bandwidth and redundancy. Combine all that with extremely good performance in the lab, and the PS200E is simply an excellent choice for any small or midsize storage network.

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FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server 1.5 

FalconStor 

Very Good, 8.6

Bottom Line: The iSCSI Storage Server offers a collection of storage services that rivals much costlier high-end solutions. Its ease of use, reasonable price, support for both NAS and SAN, and agents for major apps — plus FalconStor’s many partnerships with hardware vendors — make this solution difficult to ignore.

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HP ProLiant Storage Server iSCSI Feature Pack 

Hewlett-Packard 

Excellent, 8.8

Bottom Line: HP’s iSCSI Feature Pack combines FalconStor’s superb iSCSI Storage Server and HP’s software to offer a unified file- and block-storage platform that may appeal to entry-level customers. HP’s stellar Application Storage Manager automates migration to DAS and controls a storage server with minimal cost and effort.

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HP StorageWorks MSA1000 Small Business SAN Kit 

Hewlett-Packard 

Very Good, 8.1

Bottom Line: Without the optional OpenView storage-management software, HP’s MSA1000 Kit provides very little functionality beyond the minimum. But it’s a complete entry-level SAN with good redundancy, and HP’s service and support are hard to beat. Wide availability of additional drives and controllers is another plus.

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IBM TotalStorage DS300 

IBM 

Very Good, 8.3

Bottom Line: IBM’s Total Storage DS300 provides basic storage-management features and high-performance hardware at a superb price, along with wide availability and the IBM support organization. It has the software capabilities most organizations need, along with redundant hardware and an easy install.

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Intransa IP5500 

Intransa 

Very Good, 8.2

Bottom Line: Intransa’s IP5500’s all-IP design is quite unique. All communication between the controllers and the disks flows over bonded Gigabit Ethernet NICs rather than Fibre Channel or SCSI. The solution is elegant but needs more up-front I/O: iSCSI bandwidth is limited to one gigabit NIC per controller. Furthermore, adequate Windows performance requires sector offset tweaks for every volume. Intransa is a vendor to watch.

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