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Choosing the right storage solution

We want to purchase 5 TB Serial ATA (SATA) Storage System which should be scalable to 50TB and should be able to mix SATA and FATA. It should also be able to support multi OS and RAID levels, and have good Management S/W and alert system (Email Alert). Another requirement is that it must be capable of facilitating storage consolidation in SAN, NAS and DAS. Which would best suit our needs, EMC CLARiiON CX3 Model20, Sun StorageTek 6140 Array or EVA4000, and why?

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This is a very high-level question to which there is unfortunately only a high-level answer. Choosing the right storage solution can be compared to looking for the ideal vehicle; most cars will meet basic requirements but specific models will appeal to different buyers based on options, capacity and price.

Consolidating storage can represent a significant initial investment and must therefore be approached methodically. The best way to select the appropriate storage solution is to first establish a precise and detailed list of requirements. For example:

  • Performance (MB/sec, IOPS, RPM, etc.)
  • Desired RAID level(s)
  • Raw capacity versus useable capacity (i.e.: RAID 1+0 on 50 TB of raw storage will yield approximately 25 TB of useable storage)
  • Number of host connections
  • Specific OS support required
  • Number of storage partitions
  • Reliability, availability, serviceability (RAS) requirements
  • Amount of memory cache
  • Specific features required (i.e.: Snapshots, remote replication, etc)
  • Budgetary considerations/limits
  • And many more

It might be advisable to retain the services of a storage consultant or architect to assist with establishing a detailed list of all your organization's storage requirements. A RFI (Request for Information) could subsequently be prepared and submitted to a number of selected vendors. It would then be up to the vendors to demonstrate if and how their respective products meet your exact requirements.

This was first published in January 2007

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