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Archival survival guide

While tape remains a much safer bet for offsite/remote backup, the truth is that it isn't always the best or even the most convenient method for archiving data. In this special report, we review six options in the market.



When the question of data archiving gets raised, tape devices usually spring to mind. Quite a few generations have cut their teeth on computers that loaded and saved data to and from a tape drive -- once a humble audio cassette recorder.


Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Initially, tapes were far less expensive than any other form of archiving. Early hard drives and optical storage were so expensive they were only contemplated as primary on-line storage or (in the case of optical) a long term but expensive alternative to tape. Optical storage initially benifited from compatibility. There were only a relatively small number of standards for optical drives and the chances were your devices could read most of them -- whereas there was (and still is) a bewildering array of tape formats and standards.

Many people confuse archiving with backup. Archive data still needs to be backed up just like regular data. For backup the most logical choice is still tape because it allows users to store their backed-up data offsite. Disks are not yet very practical for doing this, unless fibre-attached over some distance in a metropolitan area network (MAN). Even then, a remote disk site within 10 kilometres or so could easily be affected by the same disaster that takes out the primary data centre.

While tapes remain a much safer bet for offsite/remote backup, the truth is that tape systems are not always the best or even the most convenient methods for archiving data.

If you have a very large amount of data that needs archiving at frequent intervals, say overnight, then many tape units are just not going to suffice. Their data throughput rates are too slow, and even if you can archive data fast enough to make no impact on day to day operations, what about retrieval? A tape is a serial device, so searching for and retrieving specific chunks of data from the tape is a lot slower than from devices such as a RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).

Given that the cost of hard drives is plummeting, it is no surprise that the method of choice for many is a RAID. With IDE or even SATA drives, the cost of a beefy chunk of archival storage is becoming quite low.

This is not to say that there is just one best solution because there are numerous different levels of archiving. More important or younger data will need to be accessible instantly, while older, less important data might only be needed periodically -- enough to still warrant keeping it onsite, rather than in a data vault.

In the first instance, the speed would suit a RAID. The second where speed is not as important could be carried out by some of the faster tape-drive libraries.

There is, however, a third alternative bridging both worlds to provide a neat answer to the problem of data throughput with some tape drives -- VTL or Virtual Tape Libraries.

A VTL is simply a disk array that is capable of simulating tape devices so that it appears as a tape drive to your archiving or backup software.

Many vendors provide VTL solutions that utilise their own hardware and either their own proprietary VTL software solution or that of a third party vendor.

Software is potentially more crucial to archiving than the media itself, if you consider the potential need to access today's data in a usable format 10 years from now (think of how fast technology changes, 10 years ago 1GB was massive -- not to mention document and data structures). Archive searches must be quick, customisable, and accurate to ensure that the snapshot in time can be located as efficiently as possible. There is absolutely no point in having a warehouse full of boxes of paperwork from the last five years if there is no structure to it. An employee needing to find a single page of a memo could be looking for the proverbial needle, let alone following a paper trail of documents. The same goes for data that is archived; if it is not readily accessible, readable, and more importantly searchable then all can say is "good luck".

Oh, and in case you are thinking that archiving data only protects your bottom line by providing timely restoration and retrieval of business data, then think again. In Australia you must retain all your financial data in case the Australian Tax Office asks to take a peek at it, and if you deal with any US companies then there are quite a few compliance hoops you might need to jump through.

The majority of vendors participating in this review offered disk based products for evaluation. The disk specific products range from Network Attached Storage (NAS) to Direct Attached Storage (DAS) arrays -- usually combining some form of RAID. It becomes difficult to directly compare each of the devices, so for this review, each of the products is assessed in its own right.


Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Hard Disk Technologies (PATA (ATA), SATA, SCSI)
PATA: PATA, more commonly known in the past as ATA, represents Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment. Ranging in speeds from around 33Mbps to 133Mbps it is the cheapest form of hard disk around today.

SATA: The "s" stands for serial and represesents the evolution from PATA. Smaller serial cables and faster speeds starting at 150Mbps are the primary differentiators between PATA and SATA.

SCSI: SCSI stands for Small Computer Systems Interface. These disks have been around since the Ark. I am positive Noah himself used an array of these drives to maintain his animal inventory, not to mention their health records and diet requirements for the duration of the cruise.

Speeds range from 4Mbps through to the 160Mbps Ultra3 SCSI implementation. The successor touted to take over from SCSI is Fibre Channel. This serial data transfer technology increases the bandwidth available and uses optical fibre to connect the devices.

iSCSI: iSCSI is not directly related to disks, but while we were on the topic of SCSI we should discuss it. iSCSI stands for Internet Small Computer Systems Interface and is a relatively new standard used for sending SCSI storage commands over a IP network. The physical connection is usually a copper or fibre gigabit network connection. This is mostly used in SANs (more about those shortly).

Disk Array Technologies (NAS, DAS, SAN)
There are almost as many differing disk arrays as there are acronyms to match up with them. On top of that there is the ubiquitous RAID terminology to come to grips with.

NAS: NAS is an array (enclosure) of hard disks with a certain level of intelligence built into the box that allows administrators to access it and configure it to appear as a drive target on the network. The important factor with NAS is that it is like any other network attached appliance and is generally managed remotely via a Web interface or console connection.

DAS: DAS represents Direct Attached Storage, which is an array (enclosure) of hard disks with some limited intelligence which attaches directly to a server, these days usually with fibre connections but can also be SCSI too, which was the traditional method for DAS attachment.

SAN: SAN is Storage Area Network, which is not a specific disk-based technology like NAS and DAS. Indeed a SAN could comprise many differing technologies such as NAS, DAS, optical, and tape. SAN covers the whole concept of the enterprises interconnected information/data storage system(s). It is analogous to using the term Internet to describe the whole array of interconnected computer systems and servers around the world.

SAN targets can be configured to be available to users, workstations, servers etc, and can be located at various parts of the LAN or even over WAN links. The concept of a SAN is to remove the idea of storage being part of a server or workstation and incorporating it into the network. Theoretically SANs are easier to manage and expand as the need arises.

FCIP: On the topic of SANs, the term FCIP may sometimes be heard. FCIP represents Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol. Similar to iSCSI, Fibre Channel storage commands are sent over IP networks. According to Webopedia; "FCIP encapsulates Fibre Channel and transports it over a TCP socket. FCIP is considered a tunnelling protocol, as it makes a transparent point-to-point connection between geographically separated SANs over IP networks. FCIP relies on TCP/IP services to establish connectivity between remote SANs over LANs, MANs, or WANs. TCP/IP is also responsible for congestion control and management, as well as for data error and data loss recovery."

Other weird terminology associated with disks and drive arrays
RAID: RAID has been around in some way, shape, or form for many years now. RAID represents Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks -- it is also hotly debated that the "I" can also stand for independent -- so even the acronym pundits don't always agree either. As the name suggests, it provides some level of redundancy to a storage platform, although like most IT confusions, not necessarily so. There is RAID level 0 (which is striping data across two or more disks, generally for performance benefits).

There are at least 11 different types of RAID array levels that can be configured depending on one's choice of hardware and disk availability. These are most commonly represented as numbers, ie RAID 0 through to 7, then comes 10 (another IT confusion) and there is also RAID 0 + 1 (a striped mirror) and finally RAID S.

JBOD: Almost as good as RAID, this one means Just a Bunch of Disks. And for once the name pretty much says it all. A JBOD is a dumb chassis which is usually directly attached to a RAID controller and provides the housing and power for the disks.

Fabric: Not an acronym, but unfortunately equally as confusing as most of the others. The Fabric is the hardware that connects devices in a SAN together, so vendors like Cisco have Fabric switches which switch the fibre channel and/or iSCSI traffic from one device (say workstation or server) to the intended target (NAS, DAS, tape etc).

It is another term like SAN which tries to convey the impression that no single server or workstation is responsible for any one storage target -- sometimes referred to as any-to-any storage.


Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Tape Technologies (LTO, DLT & AIT)
There are three technologies we should consider when looking at physical tape archiving: LTO, DLT, and AIT.

LTO: Linear Tape Open (LTO) is a standard jointly developed by HP, IBM, and Seagate and because the standard is "open" there can be multiple sources of media and drives enabling compatibility from different vendors' products.

Although, how well this "open standard" works in practice is a matter for some debate. While no one seems to disagree with the compatibility of the -media", the standard is not quite so rigorous for the drive itself, and a tape written by one vendor's product may not be read correctly by another vendor's product.

There are three incarnations of the LTO technology which reside on a relatively compact and robust tape cartridge.

  • LTO 1 using 2:1 compression has a compressed capacity of 200GB and a data transfer rate of 15 to 30MB/sec.
  • LTO 2 again with 2:1 compression has a maximum capacity of 400GB and a transfer rate of 30 to 60MB/sec.
  • LTO 3 also doubles the capacity of the previous generation with a maximum 2:1 compression capacity of 800GB and 68 to 136MB/sec transfer rate which again is dependent on the compression ratio.

There is a fourth generation of the LTO technology on the drawing boards with twice the capacity and transfer speed of LTO 3.

LTO 3 cartridge physical specifications:

  • 105 x 102 x 21mm single reel.
  • Four bands of 96 tracks for a total of 384 tracks -- each of the bands are bounded by servo information.
  • Dual servo information, primary and secondary, written at the factory.
  • Longitudinal servo information is written within the servo frames for precise locations down the length of the tape.
  • Two levels of error correction can enable data to be recovered from longitudinal media scratches for example and real time verification of data is supported with a Read-While-Write capability.
  • 4KB of integrated non-volatile memory containing information for calibration, initialisation and manufacturers data that is read by passive non contact RF.

DLT: Digital Linear Tape (DLT) is a standard that has evolved quite dramatically and has quite a large proportion of the tape market. The capacity of the original DLT tapes are quite passé nowadays but the new SuperDLT tapes have increased in capacity pretty much in sync with LTO. DLT and Super DLT (SDLT) are not open standards but are tightly controlled by Quantum so one would arguably expect better compatibility between different vendors' drives. The current DLT series of tape backup drives are considered the "value" series and currently do not have a high enough capacity or transfer rate to satisfy many large corporate requirements with a peak capacity of 160GB compressed and a maximum sustained transfer rate of 16MB/sec.

  • SDLT 320 at 2:1 compression has a capacity of 320GB and a sustained transfer rate of 16 to 32MB/sec.
  • SDLT 600 has a native capacity of 300GB or 600GB compressed with a sustained transfer rate of 36 to 72MB/sec depending on compression.

The DLT camp has a very ambitious roadmap -- they don't just give us a peek at the next product but manage, using their crystal ball, to let us peek four generations ahead. Following SDLT 600 are DLT-S4, DLT-S5, DLT-S6 and DLT-S7 ranging from 1.6TB of compressed storage and 120MB/sec transfer rate in the case of the S4 up to a whopping 12 to 14TB and 800 to 1000MB/sec transfer rates.

The physical specifications for the SDLT 600 are:

  • 104.1 x 104.1 x 25.4mm
  • Recording format is 640 tracks in a serial serpentine configuration.
  • Tape length is 630m

AIT: Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) is Sony's foray into the tape backup arena and while some may argue that previous generations capacity and transfer rates are a little puny when compared to SDLT and LTO3, Sony has provided an answer in the form of AIT-4 and SAIT. Like the DLT camp Sony has stuck an S for Super in front of the previous generations name and boosted capacity and performance markedly.

  • AIT-1 relied on greater compression than the competitors to realise good capacity with a native capacity of 35GB and a compressed capacity of 90GB -- transfer speeds were four and 10.4MB/sec respectively. There was a "turbo" version of AIT-1 with 104GB compressed and a 50 percent faster transfer rate.
  • AIT-2 had a native/compressed capacity of 50/130GB and transfer rates of 6/15.6MB/sec.
  • AIT-3 had a native/compressed capacity of 100/260GB and transfer rates of 12/30MB/sec.
  • AIT-4 is the latest generation and has a native/compressed capacity of 200/520GB with a native transfer rate of 24MB/s. Sony is quite ambitious with its product roadmaps, and by 2010 it says its SAIT-drive will have a native capacity of 4TB, and by 2008 AIT-6 will hit 800GB native.
  • SAIT-1 the first generation of SAIT, is certainly impressive with a native capacity of 500GB or 1.3TB compressed with transfer rates of 30 and 78MB/sec respectively.

Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Optical Technologies (CD & DVD)
Also playing a role to some degree with archiving are write-once and re-writable optical technologies, from CD to DVD, in the popular 8cm format ranging in storage capacity from 650MB through to 27GB (Blu-Ray).

However, optical storage represents only around two or three percent of the storage market. According to IDC, it's largely a dormant market -- most of the industry have realised it is far more cost effective to use high-volume low-performance magnetic disks with tape libraries to move data offsite.

Despite much touting of the CD in past years, this is happening because of the rapid change in optical technology during the past 15 or 20 years. "It has gone through many generations of evolution, and while software associated with magnetic technology can more or less cope with the increasing capacities and changes, each generation of optical evolution has required often complete updates of hardware as well as software," says IDC analyst Graham Penn.

Years ago optical was a solid solution to long-term data retention, but we've all seen CDs showing degradation and breakdown.

Penn says that there will probably remain specialist and niche areas where optical storage will remain the method of choice, however, there are far more examples of companies who originally invested in optical storage -- now opting for a disk and tape solution as costs come down and volumes expand.

For those interested in what is out there, refer back to our review of the JVC Professional MC-8100U Digital Storage System, which is primarily tailored for users who need vast amounts of near-line network archiving storage with random access.

Products
We received products from Apple, Iomega, Quantum, Snap Appliance, and Sun. Although this archiving overview was more about hardware it is widely acknowledged that the hardware would be nothing without the software behind it, therefore we also took a look at Veritas' new archiving solution.


Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Apple: Xserve G5 Server, Xserve RAID Array and Atempo Time Navigator 4.0
While the Apple solution consumes more rack space than any of the other solutions tested, 4RU, it does feature more drive bays than any of the other solutions with 14 in total. And Apple really packs in high capacity drives. The test unit was delivered with maximum 5.6TB, which far exceeds any of the other units tested in terms of internal capacity, and exceeds the other units' total storage capacity with external arrays.

Multiple Xserve RAID arrays can be configured to support a single partition up to 16TB. The Xserve G5is a 1RU unit, the Xserve RAID a 3RU, and there is no doubt that in terms of construction that the Apple products are the "Rolls Royce" of the storage solutions tested. The Xserve G5 is attractive, and once you take the lid off the attention to detail in the internal layout is first class. The Xserve RAID box is built like a tank, it really is a two-person exercise to move it about.

The RAID unit has two sets of "Drive Modules" -- the 14 PATA drives are divided equally into two sets of seven each with its own controller. It's a pity the drive controllers do not seem to load share or provide redundancy should one fail.

When it comes to redundancy the nine cooling fans in the Xserve G5, three for each CPU and two for the power supply, certainly cater for a failure or two -- unfortunately the server only has a single power supply.

The Xserve RAID is more serious than the G5 Server with regards to redundancy -- as mentioned there are two controllers each with their own Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel and power supplies. Cooling is certainly more than adequate -- each power supply sports a large high volume fan -- and while we did not have time to dissect the case, the volume of air passed over the hard drives is also very high and should result in cool and reliable operation. The drive cradles are the most impressive we have seen with a rugged construction and smooth insertion and removal. There is also a drive lock to prevent unauthorised removal of the drives -- a wise addition.

As an Apple partner, Atempo provided its Time Navigator (TN) which was run up on an iMac. Unfortunately, as the range of products differed so much, there was no point making direct comparisons and for this reason we didn't test the Apple's performance.

As far as we know TN for Mac is the only serious high-performance enterprise backup and archiving software solution. With that said, TN also supports all the other major platforms. Through its central management TM can backup and restore your network files as well as get you on your way to government compliance. It can backup Oracle databases, SAP, Exchange, Lotus Domino, and SharePoint servers much the same as Veritas's Enterprise Vault.

Product Xserve G5 Server and Xserve RAID Array
Price AU$30,224 (5.6TB array + Xserve server)
Vendor Apple
Phone 133 622
Web www.apple.com.au
 
Interoperability
Good range of network and security protocols supported.
Futureproofing
½
Storage capacity of 5.6TB is excellent via fibre channel.
ROI
½
Relatively expensive, cost per GB also starting to get high.
Service
1 year warranty is standard with access to web based resources of AppleCare Knowledge Base and downloadable software. Upgrade to 3 years 4 hour response warranty is available for additional AU$1,495.00 inc GST.
Rating
Apple



Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Iomega NAS 200d series 320GB with REV
The Iomega NAS 200d is designed for those companies with small IT budgets who need to increase their network capacity and data availability. We see this device being used in small business as part of a backup solution.

The NAS 200d comes in a desktop form factor and features an Intel Celeron 2.0Ghz processor with 256MB of RAM running on Windows Storage Server 2003.

There are two 160GB SATA drives which pull out from the unit. These drives can be set up for RAID 0 (Striped Disk Array without Fault Tolerance) and RAID 1 (Mirroring and Duplexing). To add versatility the NAS 200d is also equipped with a REV drive which uses 35GB removable hard disks to store data. These can be compressed to hold up to a maximum of 90GB of data.

The NAS 200d ships with Iomega Automatic Backup Software which can be configured to back up data automatically as well as maintain data through user or group accounts. The device also works with thirdparty backup software applications from Veritas, CA, and Legato.

Product Iomega NAS 200d
Price AU$3,299
Vendor Iomega
Phone 02 8875 7851
Web www.iomega.com
 
Interoperability
Supports a wide range of network protocols. Media only works in REV drives.
Futureproofing
Good new technology with a capacity 35GB/90GB and relatively small portable media.
ROI
½
Priced a bit high for only 320GB of storage plus portable media.
Service
3-year standard warranty. Optional on-site available.
Rating
½
Iomega NAS 200d



Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Quantum SuperLoader 3
The Quantum SuperLoader 3 is a 2RU tape backup unit designed for medium-to-large sized companies. It can store up to 4.8TB of data in its 16+1 cartridge configuration. We were supplied with Super DLT II tapes which can each hold 300GB in native mode and 600GB compressed. The SuperLoader can also support LTO drives.

On the front of the unit are Power, Escape, and Enter buttons as well as an LCD screen. From the panel you can easily work out how to perform simple actions like importing and exporting cartridges as well as changing SCSI IDs. On the back are two Ultra SCSI 160 connectors which you would connect to your server.

All you have to do to get it up and running is attach a SCSI cable from the SuperLoader and connect it up to your server. You're archiving software should then automatically discover the SuperLoader and install the necessary drivers.

Loading cartridges is also a piece of cake. From the SuperLoader you can import each cartridge one at a time.

The SuperLoader scales very well, but it also gives you the option of remotely managing your tape loader through a Web browser or doing firmware upgrades away from your office. There is also an optional bar code reader for non-sequential tape management.

Product Quantum SuperLoader 3
Price AU$10,000
Vendor Quantum
Phone 07 3839 0950
Web www.quantum.com
 
Interoperability
SCSI connectivity. Offers remote management.
Futureproofing
½
Excellent storage capacity of 4.8TB.
ROI
½
Still offers the best cost per GB.
Service
Standard warranty is 3-year rapid exchange. Replacement unit shipped within 24 hours. Warranty upgrade to on-site is available.
Rating
½
Quantum SuperLoader 3



Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Snap Server 4500
The 4500 is a NAS device in a 1RU chassis -- it has four 3.5in drive bays that accommodate PATA drives. While the Snap Server was submitted with four 250GB drives, in a RAID 5 configuration you would see around 750GB of storage. If you want more, the device can be configured with 400GB drives and a total capacity of 1.2TB -- about it in terms of internal storage. Up to two external Snap Disk 10 expansion arrays can be controlled by the 4500, each with four storage bays for a maximum capacity of 3.6TB, which is a decent amount of storage for a small-to-medium enterprise.

The hot-swap drive cradles are impressive; solid metal fabrication that guides the drive into the bay ensures accurate mating of the connectors with a minimum of fuss. The remainder of the 4500 chassis is also reasonably robust. There is a small fan to cool the two PCI-X slots, one of which is occupied by a SCSI card to enable a tape backup to be directly connected to the external port.

There is a second small fan to cool the three memory slots and a large blower to cool the CPU's copper heat sink. The fan and blower do appear to draw some air from the drive bays and so provide indirect cooling; the airflow around the drives was surprisingly good. There are no redundant power supplies, just a single 250W unit with dual cooling fans. Connection to the LAN is via a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is also iSCSI target support.

The 4500 is straight forward to install and remote configuration and management is also easy on a user friendly browser interface.

Interoperability is very good with Windows, Unix, Apple file systems, and a reasonable swag of common clients supported.

There is a useful collection of bundled software supplied, although only two are full copies; Bakbone Netvault Workgroup Edition and Symantec Powerquest Datakeeper (desktop backup).

Product Snap Server 4500
Price AU$7469
Vendor Adaptec
Phone 02 8875 7874
Web www.adaptec.com
 
Interoperability
½
Supports a wide range of network protocols and security protocol support is also good.
Futureproofing
Internal expansion potential is good but extenal expansion capability is average.
ROI
½
Very inexpensive and performance is surprisngly good although expansion potential is relatively low.
Service
3-year hardware warranty + option for additional 2 years. On-site Service options available -- NBD or 4 hour.
Rating
Snap Server 4500



Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Sun Microsystems: SunFire V20z and StorEdge 3500
Sun represents the higher end of the market with the products that it shipped to the lab this month -- the 1RU SunFire V20z server, fitted with a single and a dual Fibre Channel card, and a 2RU Sun StorEdge 3500 Fibre Channel Disk Array, falling into the DAS/SAN category.

First the StorEdge 3500 array features a lockable front panel covering the 12 3.5in removable hard-disk drive bays. Each bay has a small thumb screw securing the drive bay into place. The disks supplied in the unit were each Seagate/Sun ST373307FC 72GB, 10,000RPM drives giving a total native array of 864GB. Also on the front panel there are drive LED indicators for each disk along with four chassis status LEDs (power, fan, temp, and alert).

If you were beginning to think that the front of the unit was impressive with 12 disks in a 2RU unit, then wait until you hear about the rear. There are two hot-swap redundant 420Watt power supplies, along with two modular interface boards (again for redundancy) -- each provide six ports for Fibre Channel GBICs interface boards and each has a serial port and a 10/100 network port. The unit we were shipped had four GBICs in the top FC module and two GBICs in the bottom FC module. It ships with a 45-day trial of BakBone Software's NetVault 7 software and BakBone's NetVault application plugin module.

The SunFire V20z server is a full-length 1RU chassis. The rear of the unit has a single power supply with an IEC power socket and power switch, a power LED, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, an ID and reset button, four gigabit copper Ethernet interfaces, a 15pin VGA port, a single USB port, a 9pin serial port and two expansion slots -- each machine had a FC interface card installed.

The front of the server has two removable HDD bays -- only one of which was populated with a 73GB Ultra 320 SCSI HDD units for the O/S. There are low profile CD ROM and Floppy Disk drives along with four small buttons, power, config and ID and their associated status indicators.

Internally there are two large copper heat sinks over the CPUs cooled by four fans -- two more fans sit near the PSU and two more again near the secondary bank of memory. The cable routing and wiring is very neat. The dual CPU unit has four GB of RAM (2GB per CPU) and expansion room for at least two more modules per CPU. The power supply is 430Watts.

Product SunFire V20z
StoreEdge 3500
Price V20z AU$3455
3500 AU$18,650
Vendor Sun
Phone 1 800 628 193
Web www.sun.com/ storage
 
Interoperability
Good range of network protocols supported while security protocol support is better than average.
Futureproofing
Internal expansion potential is hindered by Sun's low capacity SCSI drive options but external expansion potential is excellent.
ROI
Moderately priced but has a high cost per GB.
Service  
N/A
Rating
StorEdge 3500


Specifications

Product Xserve G5 Server and Xserve RAID Array Snap Server 4500 1TB Sun StorEdge 3500 and SunFire V20z Quantum Super Loader3
Company Apple Adaptec Sun Quantum
Phone 133 622 02 8875 7874   07 38390950
Website www.apple.com.au www.adaptec.com www.sun.com/
storage
www.quantum.com
RRP inc GST As Tested AU$30,224 (5.6TB array + Xserve server) AU$7469 StorEdge - AU$18,650, Sunfire AU$3445 AU$10,000
Warranty & Support 1 year. Upgrade to 3 years 4 hour response warranty is available for $1495 3 year hardware + 2 years on-site options 3 year hardware, 9-5 onsite/phone, 8 hour response 3 year. Upgrade to on-site is available.
Form factor G5 Server 1U, RAID Array 3U 1U 2U 2U
Number of Drive Bays Occupied/Free 14 (two lots of seven) / 0 4/0 12 hot swappable 1/1
Hot Swap drive bays Y Y Y N
Drive Type and model Hitachi Deskstar 400GB ATA Maxtor Maxline Plus II 250GB ATA/133 Fibre channel 146GB, 300GB, 36GB, 73GB SuperDLT 600
Drive RPM 7200 7200 10,000 and 15,000 N/A
Disk Connectivity ATA PATA Fibre channel Ultra SCSI 160
Tested Array size / Maximum 5.6TB (total of 14x400GB) Raid 5, 4 x 250GB = 1TB 108 hot-swappable 9 arrays x 12 drives N/A
RAID types supported 0, 1, 3, 5, 0+1 0, 1, 5 JBOD, 0, 0+1, 1, 3, 3+0, 5, 5+0 N/A
Ethernet ports G5 2 x gigabit ports, RAID Array 2 x 10/100TX 2 x 10/100/1000 ports 4 x 10/100/1000 on Server, 2 x Copper 10/100 on Array. 3 x FC on Server, 6 x FC GBICs on Array 1 port
CPU/s 2 X 2.3GHz G5 (64-bit) 1 x 2.4GHz P4 NA N/A
Memory (Standard/Maximum) 1GB/16GB (Tested with 3GB) 512MB / 3GB of DDR ECC 4GB/8GB N/A
NAS OS Mac OS X Server v10.4 Tiger GuardianOS V 3.1.079 NA N/A
Redundant Power Supply (eg dual redundant) G5 Single, RAID Array Dual Single Hot swappable power supplies with separate outlets No
Network Transport Protocols Supported TCP/IP, AppleTalk TCP/IP, UDP/IP, AppleTalk NA TCP
Network File Protocols Supported Macintosh (AFP, AppleTalk PAP), Windows (SMB/CIFS), UNIX and Linux (NFS, LPR/LPD), Internet (FTP, WebDAV) MS CIFS/SMB, Unix NFS v2/3, Apple AFP 2.0, Web HTTP 1.1, FTP SNMP Protocol HTTP
Network Client Types Supported Open Directory 2 (OpenLDAP, Kerberos, SASL). Windows, Linux, Mac OS clients Windows 95 through XP, MAC OS 8.x 9.x 10.x, Solaris 7 - 9, HP-UX 11, AIX 4.3.3, Red Hat 7.2 8.0 9.0 Solaris, Linux, Windows, AIX & HP-UX Web brower
Server Emulation Win NT, Mac OS X, NFS, FTP Windows NT 2000 2003, AppleShare 6.0, NFS v2/3, FTP NA N/A
External Interfaces Xserve G5 Server - dual port FC HBA
Xserve RAID Array - two 2GB FC controllers
Ultra2 SCSI (backup interface) Fibre Channel SCSI
Bundled Management and backup software Integrated GUI management tools - Server Admin and RAID Admin are included. Management with RAID Admin can be done remotely from Mac OS, Windows, or Linux platforms. Xserve RAID storage will integrate into exisiting server platforms and can be backed up by the environment that runs on the supported server platform GuardianOS V 3.2, Bakbone Netvault 7.1.1, Snap EDR (Enterprise Data Replication) , Snap S2S (Server 2 Server Synchronisation), Symantec Powerquest DataKeeper (desktop data backup), Symantec PowerQuest V2i Protector Desktop Edition, Symantec PowerQuest V2i Protector Server Edition SSCS, StorEdge Traffic Management Web management standard

Contents
Introduction
Hard disk vs. disk array
Tape technologies
Optical technologies
Apple: Xserve & Atempo
Iomega NAS 200d
Quantum SuperLoader 3
Snap Server 4500
Sun: StorEdge & SunFire
Specifications
Final words


Final Words
The products were technically diverse, from basic USB connected Optical drives all the way up to Fibre Channel Disk Arrays.

We were impressed with the fact that many hardware vendors are moving towards supporting specific archiving solutions instead of trying to shoehorn clients into a one-size-fits-all modified backup solution.

As you can see this is a very complex field given the range and size of archiving jobs enterprises have ahead of them. We didn't give awards this month because no two products were really comparative or indeed even the same technology, from NAS to DAS and IDE through to FC disks, but they fit into a bigger system, that of allowing enterprises to tailor their archiving solution to their environment.