Best storage products of 2005


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Disk and Disk Subsystems

Gold: Xiotech Magnitude 3D 3000e

Judges called the 3000e a "storage system with a good suite of features and capabilities."

XIOTECH CORP.'S MAGNITUDE 3D 3000e wasn't the flashiest, highest performing, most feature-laden

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or least-expensive product in this category. But what the 3000e lacks in overall superlatives, it makes up for by being well-rounded, dependable and cost-effective. Taken together, these admirable traits lifted the stout-hearted 3000e to this year's top spot.

The 3000e isn't a low-end commodity box. It's an entry-level system that supports multiple controllers that are geographically separated by FC distances. And like all Magnitude 3Ds, the 3000e delivers transparent failover and failback within controllers and across clusters so local outages don't prevent access to data and applications. Coupled with Xiotech's DataScale Geo-Replication software, storage volumes can be replicated to remote Magnitude 3D clusters in a matter of minutes. The 3000e can host three different kinds of disk drives: enterprise FC, low-cost FC or serial ATA (SATA) for any flavor of storage tiering. Drives, drive bays and controllers can be added non-disruptively.

The 3000e is limited to four host-side FC ports and 19.2TB of capacity using SATA disks. But it's not much of a limitation, given that the 3000e is but one model in the 3000 family. Users who outgrow the 3000e can non-disruptively upgrade to the higher performance 3000s, with up to eight host-side FC ports and 76.8TB of capacity, or the top-of-the-line 3000x, which offers better drive failure isolation and performance.

Still, the 3000e probably wouldn't be such a hit in the departmental workgroup if it wasn't for usability features that have earned Xiotech a loyal following. The 3000e adheres to Xiotech's strict rule of no server-side code, even to support cluster failover and failback. No wonder judges said the 3000e "is very popular in midsized enterprises."

Silver: Isilon Systems
Isilon IQ

Easy scaling of capacity and performance at a reasonable price are hallmarks of Isilon IQ.

UNLIKE A LOT OF other arrays on the market, Isilon Systems Inc.'s Isilon IQ wasn't designed as storage for an average I/O-intensive database application. Coming off a stint at streaming-media pioneer Real Networks, the architects for Isilon IQ set out to make a storage system designed to house large amounts of sequential unstructured data and serve it up as fast as the network will carry it. The judges were unequivocal in their praise for the system's performance, ease of scalability and, best of all, relatively low price per-terabyte.

Need to move a big video file from here to there? Isilon IQ can handle that job without breaking a sweat. The company has clocked a system with an impressive 5GB/sec aggregate throughput and a single file system of up to 250TB. That performance comes from many things: an N-way clustered architecture that adds processing power along with capacity; the OneFS distributed file system that stripes files and meta data across nodes; the low-latency InfiniBand interconnect between nodes; and--last but not least--a lot of cache.

Better still is the ease with which you can apply that performance and scalability to your environment. As a NAS system supporting standard NFS and CIFS protocols, Isilon IQ inherently provides file sharing and requires no host-side software or hardware beyond a standard Ethernet connection. The OneFS file system also allows easy scalability by automatically recognizing new nodes as they're added and restriping the data accordingly. For high performance and easy expandability, Isilon IQ delivers in spades.

Bronze: Compellent Technologies
Storage Center 3.3

Storage Center's feature set is made possible by its underlying Dynamic Block Architecture.

IF IT'S HIGH-END FEATURES and flexibility you want, look no further than Compellent Technologies' Storage Center 3.3. Despite being a relative newcomer to the midrange array scene, judges were impressed by the number of ways it can be configured, and its long list of standard and add-on applications.

Storage Center 3.3 is drive and host-interface agnostic. You can outfit the array with FC or SATA disks, and with either FC or iSCSI host connectivity, within the same box if you so choose. It supports N-way clustered controllers (but only two today) and capacity scales from 1TB to 100TB.

Mixed drive and host-interface types work well with Storage Center 3.3's optional Data Progression feature, a policy-based migration facility that moves data at the block level to optimize performance or archive older data to a more appropriate tier. "This is the first block storage array that automates ILM [information lifecycle management] and moves data between tiers based on user policies," wrote a judge.

Other notable features include Dynamic Capacity--a kind of thin provisioning; Data Instant Replay, a snapshotting capability; boot-from-SAN support; online volume expansion; and RAID-level migration. The optional Remote Instant Replay is a remote snapshot replication feature.

This was first published in February 2006

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