Ask the Expert

Building shared storage

We need to replace 47 TB of DAS Storage and add 20 TB of new storage. We are looking at building a shared storage on a Gigabit back boon. What is our best choice (NetApp, EMC Sun or IBM)?

We are running Oracle, LandMark applications and visualization software.

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That is a great deal of capacity in making that change. You've indicated that you are going from direct-attached storage to NAS for applications such as database. There are many implications here and I assume you've done your homework: many databases are installed using RAW I/O that only does block I/O and is not used on a NAS device. This is usually done for performance reasons. The performance issues have to do with the buffering done in the server, the TCP/IP protocol stack overhead, IP performance issues (and lack of guaranteed response time), etc. Whether it is an issue for you depends on your usage and you need to have made that analysis.

There are many vendors that can satisfy your needs. All of those listed have solutions. Some can operate as standard NAS devices or as a NAS control with block I/O capability across a SAN (EMC Highroad or IBM 300G with SANergy for example). You'll want to look at each vendor's offering, the costs (both in product and TCO), performance and the support. Based on that information combined with your earlier homework, you should be able to make an informed decision. Only with all that information (which I certainly don't have) can you make that decision.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in March 2002

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