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Disk & Disk Subsystems


Symmetrix DMX has speed, high performance and features galore
EMC Symmetrix DMX
It's innovative, fast and it's full-featured. That, in a nutshell, is what our panel of judges had to say about EMC Corp.'s Symmetrix DMX. And to top it all off, they said it's reasonably priced, given the level of performance and reliability it delivers.

The Symmetrix DMX family, first introduced in February 2003, is EMC's sixth version of its flagship monolithic array. The DMX family ranges from the entry-level 800 model to the mammoth DMX 3000, which supports up to 576 disk drives, or 84TB of raw capacity. Add-ons include EMC's usual suite of software, including synchronous data replication suite, SRDF, SRDF/Asynchronous, as well as EMC

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Snap, the first copy-on-write snapshot capability for a high-end array. Connectivity includes Fibre Channel (FC), ESCON, FICON and even iSCSI--a first for high-end storage.

In particular, the judges admired EMC's new approach to its cache architecture. In a departure from the old Symmetrix bus architecture, EMC has built Symmetrix DMX around a so-called "direct matrix" architecture--dedicated point-to-point connections between the front end and the back ends (disk drives). That ties into the new Symmetrix's main selling point: performance. "Symmetrix DMX is a good choice for shops requiring the highest performance and reliability," said one judge.

Hats off to EMC for Symmetrix DMX's pricing as well. In the old days, Symmetrix was practically synonymous with exorbitant prices. Now, pricing for Symmetrix DMX is merely "competitive" says one judge, assuming "you know how to work with EMC."

SILVER:   Xiotech Magnitude 3D
Xiotech's original magnitude array always had a good usability story, thanks to the dynamic provisioning technology that allowed users to bring new hosts and applications onto the storage area network (SAN) with ease. Then last year, Xiotech introduced the new and improved Magnitude 3D, based on a so-called Dimensional Storage Clustering Architecture. Together, dynamic provisioning and storage clustering help fulfill Xiotech's goal for its systems: no planned or unplanned downtime.

Some judges had their doubts about its performance, but they were universally wooed by its clustering implementation, which provides for failover at the controller and cluster level locally. Overall, Magnitude 3D was deemed "a quality midtier storage solution," according to one judge. In particular, one judge said: "The Magnitude 3D is a real winner for storage shops that change their configuration frequently."

BRONZE:   NetApp FAS200 Series
Once again, a Network Appliance Inc. product steals the judges' hearts with its ease of use, ease of integration and functionality. An entry-level version of the FAS900 series that was introduced in 2002, the FAS200 has a split personality: It can serve up data as either files or blocks, eliminating the "NAS vs. SAN?" question. As such, "it does establish a new price point for major feature/function," said one judge.

The FAS200 family consists of two models: the FAS250, a 3U rackmount unit that supports NFS, CIFS, HTPP and iSCSI protocols, and scales to 1TB of capacity with FC drives. The FAS270 adds native FC connectivity, offers optional active-active clustering and scales to 4TB across 42 spindles. And as with all NetApp products, the FAS200 line runs the company's Data ONTAP operating system and interoperates with the company's entire suite of add-on software.

This was first published in January 2004

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