By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-09-12 Print this article Print

EqualLogic Inc.s EqualLogic PS200E array offers high storage capacity and top-notch reliability that make it well-suited for small and midsize businesses.

The PS200E storage array eWEEK Labs tested, loaded with 5.6TB of raw storage, has a list price of $51,800. This is a hefty price, but our tests show the array is definitely a good investment.

The PS200E, which is available now, is an iSCSI-based product, so IT managers dont have to spend additional resources on acquiring and implementing expensive Fibre Channel HBAs (host bus adapters), switches and cabling—a major factor that makes the total cost of ownership of the unit very attractive.

Although it is an iSCSI target, the PS200E delivers performance and reliability comparable to that offered by Fibre Channel arrays. Compared with the PS100E array we tested last year, the PS200E has been bulked up with the addition of 400GB hard drives, boosting raw capacity to 5.6TB (up from 3.5TB last year with 250GB drives).

Ease of use and ease of implementation were the key selling points for last years model, and they are still strengths for the new array. EqualLogics management tools allow IT managers to group arrays for scalability and ease of use.

New in this release, the arrays ADMS (Auto-stat Disk Monitoring System) automatically scans disks and searches for potential disk media problems. Because the PS200E uses SATA (Serial ATA) drives, which are not as reliable as Fibre Channel and SCSI drives, ADMS should help IT managers detect potential disk problems before they have a chance to adversely affect performance.

We tested the PS200E arrays performance by saturating our Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet links. The array handled this onslaught with no problems, with performance to a single link exceeding 100MB per second.

Fibre Channel equipment is still the right choice for high-performance applications, but performance should not be an issue at sites that harness the PS200E to feed storage to e-mail servers, file servers and smaller database servers.

Early next year, EqualLogic will update its arrays to enable support for SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), company officials said. The addition of this support is important because it will enable EqualLogic customers to use faster and more reliable SAS disks, which are often used in transaction-oriented environments.

Read more here about Serial Attached SCSI. EqualLogics line of arrays provides handy group management functionality. The arrays use a virtual group address to contact the network. When storage resources dwindle or more performance is needed, an IT manager can simply add another array to the group to increase capacity and performance.

The procedure for adding arrays is easy to follow, and the intelligence built into the PS200E effectively spreads the load to group members. (We had twin PS200E units in our testbed.) Because all group resources are shared, IT managers neednt go through the painful storage-juggling process usually involved with adding new arrays.

Like all of EqualLogics arrays, the PS200E includes snapshot functionality. In tests, it was easy to create snapshots of data volumes and restore data quickly after simulated data corruption events.

Replication also is available on the PS200E, a capability that will help protect the array in the event of a site-level disaster.

In terms of functionality and capabilities, the PS200E is similar to Compellents Storage Center 3.2.

A comparably priced Compellent system has more flexibility than the PS200E because it can handle both iSCSI and Fibre Channel modes. However, Compellents Storage Center lacks EqualLogics group management functionality.

The PS200E has basic security built into it to protect data volumes. Using the arrays security management options, we could control access to volumes by either binding them to specific server IP addresses or by using CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol).

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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