Ask the Expert

Having hardware problems?

I manage a mid-sized data center for the government. The environment is Solaris 7 on Sun hardware. In order to remove the effects of stove piping and lighten the load on our servers, I purchased an IP4700 from EMC.

We've had a number of file system-related problems with this system. It's been operational for 45 days, during which one volume was unavailable for about 20 hours and another was unavailable for about 15 hours.

I can't imagine this is typical, but I can find little information regarding this device on the Web or USENET. Would you recommend I stick to this device or cut my losses and send it back, asking for a refund?

Incidentally, when one of the file systems went down, we had the unfortunate experience of having to fsck the volume. There was much debate over how long it should take. The EMC engineers said that the fsck length extends exponentially with the number of files on the file system. This is not my experience with UFS or VxVFS.

Is there any way we can sift through the marketing to find out this sort of detail before we purchase similar devices?

Many thanks,
Paul

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Paul,

I'm surprised that you had so many problems with the IP4700. You should give EMC the "opportunity" to fix the product in a very short time period and compensate you in some way (extend the service at no cost for example) before you return the product. This product has not met your requirements and the promises of what the vendor sold you. You should escalate this beyond your local team to get attention (you need to demand it). If you feel inclined, you can go to one of the many conferences and give a presentation on the problems you had. That gets attention.

The fsck taking longer is not surprising. That is a custom software implementation and it is doing some very complete checking.

There's not really a central clearing house of reports on products in this business. The best thing you can do is ask the vendor for reference accounts and call them. It's homework on your part but well worth it. If they won't give you references, regardless of their excuses, be very wary.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in January 2002

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