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Disk and disk subsystems

ONStor's Pantera Series Clustered NAS redefines scalability with up to 40PB of storage and active-active n-way clustering.

Gold: ONStor Pantera Series Clustered NAS
The Pantera clustered NAS system from ONStor Inc. has a trifecta of data protection benefits that's hard to beat: scalability, performance and interoperability.

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In sum, it's one of the most versatile enterprise NAS products we've seen.

Scalability is particularly crucial in storage, and the Pantera scales in two important dimensions. If it's capacity you need, Pantera supports up to 40PB using 146GB 15,000 rpm SAS hard drives for performance-sensitive applications or 500GB SATA drives for noncritical, cost-effective tasks. SAS and SATA drives are supported simultaneously, allowing for tiered storage in the same chassis. Each Pantera model also touts four Gigabit Ethernet ports and scales for performance through active-active n-way clustering; up to eight 300MB/sec filers can be combined to yield a total throughput of 2.4GB/sec (depending on selected models). As one judge puts it: "Nicely done scalability for a very reasonable pay-as-you grow approach."

The Pantera can configure storage as a single pool for optimum utilization, which means no more hunting for lost storage or migrating data to accommodate a storage upgrade. Advanced data protection features, such as the ability to perform up to 48 snapshots per file system, provide point-in-time copies. However, remote replication isn't standard and optional software will be needed to replicate data between remote Pantera systems.

Judges debated the Pantera's price--some call it reasonable, while others suggest the system was relatively expensive per gigabyte. Still, a solid suite of features and good execution makes ONStor's Pantera family a solid winner.

Silver: Seagate Cheetah 15K.5 300GB enterprise hard drive
It's not news that hard drives, perhaps more than any other storage component, profoundly affect storage performance and reliability. The Cheetah 15K.5 300GB hard drive from Seagate Technology LLC earned a silver in the disk subsystems category for its impressive marriage of capacity and performance.

Cheetah drives are available in a 3.5-inch form factor at 73GB, 146GB and 300GB capacities, though it's the move to 300GB that's truly interesting. The key to this enhanced capacity is perpendicular recording technology, which magnetizes through the disk media (perpendicular to the disk) rather than along the disk plane (longitudinally). This effectively increases the recording areal density and allows for more storage capacity. At the same time, more bits per inch are flying under the heads, so data rates are increased for added performance. Cheetah drives are available for several interfaces, including Ultra320 SCSI, 3Gb/sec SAS and 4Gb/sec Fibre Channel.

Seagate's Cheetah 15K.5 uses perpendicular recording, which improves storage capacity and sequential performance.

Several judges call the drive technology "innovative." One skeptical judge calls the Cheetah "just another disk drive" that will inevitably be displaced by bigger and better models, but that judge missed the point: The Cheetah drive will influence the entire storage industry, while perpendicular data recording pushes drive capacities into the terabyte range.

Bronze: BlueArc Titan 2200 Storage System
BlueArc Corp.'s Titan 2200 NAS storage system offers ample storage with impressive levels of throughput and connectivity. But it was the modularity of BlueArc's Titan 2000 family that attracted our attention.

The Titan 2200 scales to 512TB of capacity. Simultaneous support for SATA drives up to 400GB, Fibre Channel drives up to 300GB and WORM drives enable tiered storage within the same system. BlueArc also paid a lot of attention to performance, rating the Titan 2200 at up to 10Gb/sec throughput. It can be active-active clustered for high availability. Virtualization is an essential feature, allowing virtual volumes that manage data capacity and size dynamically as allocation needs change. Asynchronous or synchronous replication features are also available. One judge proclaims it "best-in-class performer." Still, it's important to note that key features, including NFS, CIFS, iSCSI, virtual servers, data migration, active-active clustering and clustered name space (among others), are considered optional.

BlueArc's Titan 2000 family features modularity to reduce the expense and disruption of future system upgrades.

BlueArc's adoption of a modular architecture allows the Titan to be configured with Network Interface Modules, File System Modules and Storage Interface Modules. Each module can be replaced or upgraded easily, helping to avoid the expense and disruption normally associated with forklift upgrades.

This was first published in February 2007

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