Six SAN shoot-out

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: Dell)

Dell PowerVault MD3000i

The PowerVault MD3000i is Dell's entry-level SAN storage solution. The standard version includes one controller with 512MB cache. A high availability version is also available with dual controllers providing active/active redundant systems.

The MD3000i supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. This seems a little poor given the broad use of RAID 6. There could be as many as 15 disks in this device. It really needs an enhanced RAID controller to provide better data safety. Expansion modules can push the total number of drives even further, 45 drives with a total capacity of up to 18TB per enclosure (and a grand total of 90TB with additional enclosures).

With no option for fibre channel the array has to share the gigabit TCP/IP network port to transfer data. 1Gbps Ethernet NICs are likely bottlenecks for this array. If configured with faster SAS disks rather than SATA, the limitation would be particularly obvious. Each installed controller has 2 gigabit ports.

Dell provides a number of optional management software features including snapshots and disk copy; however, these are not packaged with this unit (they really should be included in any default configuration). Thin provisioning is another feature that will be missed in an entry-level SAN such as this.

Hot-pluggable technology can enable administrators to easily upgrade disks while keeping the business running. Though in truth, hot-pluggable disks are probably of greater use in a repair scenario rather than when upgrading overall capacity. This can be done during occasional scheduled maintenance. A maximum of only 16 servers can be connected to the MD3000i.

This unit also supports 5400rpm SATA disks. Dell claims the new disks will decrease power consumption by up to 30 per cent. This is definitely good news for MD3000i, because its maximum power consumption is rated at 550W — the highest of all SAN models reviewed.

Windows and Linux operating systems support is claimed. Dell uses a web-based management console, which bring flexibility to administrators.

The good

  • RAID controller-based iSCSI SAN solution with much better performance than PC-based ones
  • Supports both SAS/SATA disks
  • Two controllers with mirrored cache provide active/active redundant

The bad

  • Doesn't support RAID 6
  • Only supports Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Snapshot and disk copy are extra costs

The bottom line
Up to 15 disks and 16 server connections make this ideal for small enterprise and non-key applications.

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

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  • Where's the testing?

    I see Enex was involved, but I don't see the results of any testing.

    At the moment it looks more like "Heres six SAN devices and a summary of their spec sheets".

    Having details of how these devices would be good - particularly when the device comes in multiple configs. We have the MD3000, seeing it compared to a MD3000i would be useful.
  • slight correction

    Oops. Missed a word in there:

    Second last sentence should read:
    "Having details of how these devices *perform* would be good - particularly when the device comes in multiple configs. "
  • HDS?

    Where is HDS in all of this...

    These aren't SAN's they're over powered disk storage platforms.

    Call them SAN's when you looking at at least the AMS2000, or USP/V/VM level.
  • where I work, We assemble this model!!!
  • Dell PowerVault MD3000i iSCSI SAN

    I'm not a huge IT guy, I'm a marketing guy that is part owner of a small, nationwide company that deals with, and uses a lot of computer stuff (I'm not going to tell you the name of the company, because I don't want you to think this is a lame way to get our link up)

    I was worried, that, even though it was a lot of money for ME, its not the most expensive solution, so I was afraid of its reliability, and expand ability, I've had it for a year now, and it is just amazing.

    I rarely write reviews, and am always skeptical when reading one, but I HAD to write this one, because it's funny, and a true testament to this Powervault...More reviews need to look like this, if I do say so myself, and I'll be sharing this on different forums. ;)

    I recently had a tech come into our offices to run some wires, setup a couple things, etc., He's one of those computer snobs. Knows everything about computers, He was constantly sarcastically joking about EVERYTHING in our offices, from our fax machines, to our computers, I think he even said something negative about my cell phone! I just assumed it wouldn't have mattered what model I had, he would have hated it. (this is kind of how I see online reviews. It's a metaphor. There will ALWAYS be more motivation for someone to post a negative experience than a positive one- in fact, the default attitude, online- is negative.)

    However, when he started working with my new (new to me, but used) Dell PowerVault MD3000i He actually COMPLIMENTED me on it! He talked about how others are overpriced, and how this one was expandable, etc. It was just funny, because I thought, "maybe he just realized he's been so negative, and wanted to make up for it by saying something positive."

    But RIGHT after he complimented me on the Dell PowerVault MD3000i he said..."Man, the lighting in here sucks! Your fluorescent lighting have different color temps. How do you work in here?!"

    Thats when I knew his Dell PowerVault MD3000i compliment was genuine! :) LOL