By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2004-10-18 Print this article Print

FalconStor Software Inc.s FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server appliance operating system adds iSCSI target functionality and snapshots to the Windows Storage Server 2003 platform.

With block and file-level networked storage capabilities, FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server gives IT managers flexible storage capabilities for small and midsize workloads.

FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server, which became available last month, is a good choice for consolidating storage because it has data protection capabilities that IT managers need.

iSCSI Storage Server is sold by a number of retailers. (FalconStor creates the software; resellers and hardware vendors sell the complete appliance.) Appliances running FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server, with prices starting at approximately $6,000, are available from Ciara Technologies Inc., Dynamic Network Factory Inc., Ion Computer Systems Inc. and Maxxan Systems Inc.

The FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server-based product we tested, Ion Computer Systems $6,000 Ion Terastation Server, included dual 2.4GHz Intel Corp. Xeon processors, with 1GB of RAM, and 10 Hitachi Ltd. 250GB Serial ATA hard drives. The Terastation Server was easy to configure and implement.

Regardless of the hardware around it, FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server can be managed via a Web browser or by using Microsoft Corp.s Remote Desktop functionality. When we accessed the Web-based management utility, we found that the FalconStor functionality was simply added to the Web-based Microsoft interface—a neat strategy because it eliminates the need to learn and install a new interface.

The interface made it easy to create iSCSI virtual disks and give hosts (servers and clients) access to them. The interface walked us through the process of selecting which storage volume to use (on the appliance) and determining the size of each virtual disk.

Click here to read about how iSCSI systems are revving IP storage. To safeguard data, FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server allows IT managers to enable CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol) for authentication.

In addition, FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server has flexible snapshot capabilities for rapid data protection and recovery. We found it easy to configure snapshots using the Web-based utility: The tool allowed us to easily select which virtual disks we wanted to protect, and we could specify the frequency of the snapshots. FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server allows IT managers to take as many as 32 snapshots per virtual disk and 256 per appliance.

After taking a snapshot of a virtual disk, it was easy for us to quickly roll back our data volume to an older snapshot. FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server also gave us the option of mounting the snapshot image as a virtual volume, which allowed us to grab specific files we wanted from the old image without rolling back the entire primary data volume.

Unfortunately, FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server cannot use FalconStors WORMlock utility, which would be useful for IT managers looking for an inexpensive place to store data long term to meet compliance guidelines.

FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server currently lacks certification for Unix iSCSI initiators, but this is more a symptom of the relatively slow adoption of iSCSI in the enterprise-class Unix market.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

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