Q

Ten steps to take to avoid vendor hype

I am evaluating HP Eva3000 vs. XioTech, Hitachi and one major difference that jumps out in front of me is that HP's architecture is all Fibre based and other systems are SCSI. Can you please explain benefits going with either or and any other concerns you would have?

I would be placing around 20 servers on that SAN (Windows environment, Oracle DB). Also, any recommendations would be great. Thank you.


I always try and be as product neutral as possible so I cannot make a specific recommendation.

I will mention that the Hitachi solution is also 2-gigabit end-to-end Fibre Channel based by the way. I think the Xiotech still uses Ultra160 SCSI.

Each of these solutions has the capability to handle the workload you are looking at. If I were you, I would do a real evaluation by bringing in all three products into your data center and test them out before you make a decision.

1. Look at the management interface to determine ease of use.

2. Try loading new microcode and see how transparent it is.

3. Test the "phone home" capability to make sure it works.

4. Try expanding a volume on the fly, to make sure it's transparent to your operations.

5. Try booting into the SAN, to make sure you can take advantage of it.

6. Try out all the firmware based functionality you will be buying, like snapshots and replication.

7. Test the path failover functionality.

8. Do you have a choice of switches or HBAs or are you forced to buy from the vendor.

9. Place a service call and see how responsive the company is.

10. Force failures in the array, and see how it handles the errors.

Doing all the above will get you past the vendor "hype" and give you a good idea of which solution will actually work in your particular environment.

The solution should be easy to use and fit into your current management framework. The solution should also match the service level needed for your applications and fit within the budget you have allocated.

Be wary of ongoing costs. The up-front purchase price may not include everything you need down the road. Although some solutions are more expensive up front, you need to look at the total operational cost over the lifetime of the solution. Little things tend to add up over time.

Chris

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This was first published in June 2003

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