Six SAN shoot-out

Summary:Managing data storage is just as much of a task (or greater) as managing the servers themselves. It makes sense to centralise management in larger organisations wherever possible. Enter the storage area network (SAN).

(Credit: NetApp)

NetApp FAS2020

NetApp is a young but dedicated player in the storage field. NetApp provides a range of handy management proprietary technologies in its FAS2020. These include: RAID DP (based on RAID 6) for data stability and FlexShare for workload prioritisation and FlexVol. FlexVol is a useful technology for a business with increasing demands. Administrators don't need to know in advance how large individual volumes need to be for a given application; volumes expand as demand grows (so long as total SAN capacity is not exceeded). Aside from the basic management package, additional software packages are available to suit more specialised or high-end business needs.

The FAS2020 can have up to 1024 LUNs and 51,000 snapshots. This clearly exceeds the demands of mid-sized enterprises. However, it proves that the FAS2020 can accompany your business' long-term growth. The maximum disk capacity for the FAS2000 series devices is 68TB.

Active/active redundancy with failover controllers is an added safety feature for critical scenarios. It means you can hot-swap failed controllers without a halt to business. Both Fibre Channel and iSCSI protocols are supported, allowing buyers the choice of higher speed or lower costs.

NetApp FAS2020 provides plenty of valuable features (although some come at a cost) such as SecureAdmin, thin provisioning, host scripting, email alerts, virus protection and role-based access control.

NetApp claims (based on a report by Oliver Wyman) that its product has a very low total cost of ownership when compared to competing products, mainly due to more efficient use of disk space. Energy usage also appears to be low.

The FAS2020 supports a wide range of operating systems including Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Mac OS and VMware.

The good

  • RAID DP greatly improves data safety
  • Large snapshot capacity
  • Up to 1024 LUNs
  • FlexVol is useful for a growing business
  • Direct Snapshot support for key applications (Exchange, MS-SQL, Oracle, SAP, VMware etc)

The bad

  • Connected host number is limited to 24

The bottom line
A very good product and useful software, but limited baseline warranty/support service.

Topics: Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Storage

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