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: IBM)

IBM System Storage DS3200/DS3400

This device is a work horse and is unapologetically focused on engineering rather than appearances.

IBM has always been a competitive player in storage field. The DS3200 is quite similar to the DS3400, except that the latter also supports fibre channel in addition to iSCSI. The DS3400 comes in three flavours: single controller, dual-controller and dual-controller telco (with 48V DC input).

IBM claims the DS3200/DS3400 is appropriate for mid-sized enterprise because of its expandability. The DS3200/DS3400 can accommodate up to 48 disks — although this figure has been exceeded by some other products on the market (the EMC AX4, for example, can be expanded to take up to 60 drives). The base DS3200/DS3400 unit can support up to 3.6TB; with 14.4TB capacity being possible with the addition of three EXP3000 devices.

The DS3200/DS3400 can be upgraded to two controllers with 2GB cache, and six 1Gbps iSCSI ports (DS3200) or four 4Gbps FC ports (DS3400).

A useful feature of the DS3200/DS3400 is DC power support compliant with NEBS-3 and ETSI. This means it could even be used in a telco datacentre. Some mid-sized enterprises rent space in an independent datacentre instead of building their own. The power options of this device really broaden its application and location options.

The management software for this unit seeks to be task oriented rather than object oriented. Thus when an administrator seeks to make a change the first question is what process rather than what device is to be operated on. The reasoning for this is that it makes it easier for non-experts to grasp — which is not an unreasonable premise. Concepts such as copying and expanding are, for example, simpler than appreciating the difference between virtual and physical storage devices. Even so, if usability is a concern, IBM might have also thought about including thin provisioning.

The DS3200/DS3400 consumes a maximum of 361W. This is lower than most of the other devices considered; however, it is difficult to assess how the wattage per operations performed compares between this machine and the others reviewed here.

OS support is very good including Windows, Linux, Netware, AIX, VIOS, Solaris and VMware.

The DS3400 comes with a three-year parts-and-labour warranty.

The good

  • 48V DC power support
  • Good interoperability with IBM Tivoli storage management solution

The bad

  • IBM's claimed support for SAN switch models is limited
  • Disk expansion is limited to 48
  • Lack of active/spare mode in the RAID controller

The bottom line
Six iSCSI ports and DC power support are the only two shining points of this device which otherwise does not excite.

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