Ask the Expert

The elusive storage solution

I work in a high availability environment and we are looking for a storage solution. The servers are HP9000/N4000 and we have 10 of these servers. We would like to consolidate our storage space by considering the use SAN technology. One Network Appliance salesman is trying to push one of their appliance "filers." How can such solution compare with a SAN solution from HP (XP512) or EMC2? Thanks for guiding me, as I need to consider both solutions in the best interest of my company.

Thanks in advance.

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The real issue is what are your requirements. To propose a solution without understanding your requirements is not a good way to operate for a salesman. If you have a performance need with doing applications that use block I/O, the direct attached or SAN attached storage will give you a higher transaction rate because of the less overhead in dealing with remote filesystem I/O over an Ethernet network using TCP/IP and you will see less server utilization.

Additionally, if your operations are built around security and management techniques for direct attached or SAN attached storage, there will an investment required in making operational changes. The use of NAS device is very simple and may satisfy requirements or may not depending on your individual environment. You must review your requirements and then look at solution characteristics to determine what you need. A salesman that just wants to sell you what he has rather than what will fit your requirements (despite what misleading statements they may make) is not helping you. Make sure they work with you in understanding your needs.

Randy Kerns
Evaluator Group, Inc.

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This was first published in April 2002

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