EqualLogic Inc.s PeerStorage Array 100E is a versatile iSCSI-based storage system that can grow to meet the storage needs of small and midsize IT organizations. Given that IP networking and management are more familiar to most enterprises than Fibre Channel SANs (storage area networks), the PeerStorage Array could be an attractive alternative solution for IT shops that dont need the high performance of Fibre Channel.In eWEEK Labs tests, we found that the PeerStorage Array 100E, which shipped last month, was fairly easy to implement and manage.The PeerStorage Array 100E is priced at $40,000 per array, with fully redundant dual controllers and power supplies and 3.5 terabytes of raw storage capacity. This generous storage capacity makes the PeerStorage Array 100E a bargain, especially when you consider the functionality of the included storage management software. Because the PeerStorage Array 100E is an iSCSI-based system, it can be added to a network using standard off-the-shelf IP networking gear. (To maximize performance, EqualLogic strongly encourages using Gigabit Ethernet with jumbo frames enabled.) Another benefit of iSCSI is that it gives the PeerStorage Array 100E added security because iSCSI clients can be required to provide credentials before theyre allocated storage resources. CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol) can be provided by the PeerStorage group or an external RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) server. This additional level of security is necessary because IP is a more open and well-known network (when compared with Fibre Channel SANs). IPs popularity makes it familiar to IT staffs but also makes iSCSI storage systems attractive targets for hackers and disgruntled employees. Click here to read more about the increasing security risks associated with storage devices. The PeerStorage Array 100E uses Serial ATA hard drives, which are inexpensive and offer high capacity but usually sacrifice performance and reliability compared with SCSI and Fibre Channel drives. Our test unit was equipped with 7,200-rpm drives, but with the firmware upgrade that was released this month, the PeerStorage Array 100E can support speedier 10,000-rpm drives for high-performance applications. The PeerStorage Array 100E sets aside two spare disks in each array unit. When a disk fails, the storage unit configures the spare disks to replace the failed ones without user intervention. Next page: Fast SAN setup.