Fast SAN setup

By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2004-06-28 Print this article Print

The peerstorage array 100E is marketed as a 20-minute SAN solution, which we found to be a surprisingly accurate claim. It was easy to get the PeerStorage Array 100E up and running, even when using the command-line interface to begin the basic setup process (giving the storage unit its name and IP address and establishing a management group).

After initial configuration, we used the Web-based management interface to set up volumes and RAID protection levels (RAID 50 and RAID 10 are supported) on our PeerStorage Array 100E.

The Web-based interface was easy to navigate, and we used it to check diagnostic information and configure advanced functions, including snapshots and replication.

Things got really interesting when we added a second PeerStorage Array 100E to our peer group. Installing a second array was easy, and it automatically triggered EqualLogics unique load balancing capabilities.

When we added the unit to our group, volumes we had created earlier were split across two (for example, a 500GB volume divided into two 250GB volumes on two separate units). Thanks to this load balancing scheme, it was fairly easy for us to keep one system from getting overworked.

The PeerStorage Array 100E includes an auto-replication feature, which allows IT managers to replicate data over a WAN to standby units for redundancy.

However, the feature does not allow a tape preload, so we recommend IT managers stage the initial replication locally first for large volumes before moving the targets off-site. After the initial synchronization, the auto-replication feature sends over only delta changes, which should optimize bandwidth use.

The auto-replication feature was easy to set up and useful in tests. We did notice, however, that it had no bandwidth-throttling controls. Because the auto-replication function runs on standard IP, EqualLogic recommends that bandwidth-sensitive enterprises use the QOS (quality-of-service) capabilities they have in their IP networks to make sure the auto-replication feature doesnt consume all available bandwidth.

For local protection, the PeerStorage Array 100E also has built-in snapshot capabilities for quick restores.

The PeerStorage Array allows instant and scheduled snapshots. The snapshot feature can be handy because it enables IT managers to roll back data volumes and erase accidental data corruption events.

Cloning is another standard feature on the PeerStorage Array 100E. It lets IT managers make image copies of volumes. Cloning makes it possible to replicate system images so that new systems can be rapidly deployed in environments such as Web farms and blade server groups.

To connect it to Windows Server 2003, we had to download Microsoft Corp.s iSCSI client and install it on all our test servers—a process that isnt difficult but could be time-consuming for organizations that dont have software distribution tools in place.

Next page: Software scarcity.


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