Flexibility, extensibility, thorough management capabilities and first-class performance make the HP LeftHand P4300 4.8TB SAS Starter SAN Solution an excellent choice for midrange and above iSCSI storage.
The HP LeftHand P4300 4.8TB SAS Starter SAN Solution is an
affordable, scalable and manageable iSCSI SAN for midsize and larger
The centerpiece of the offering is the SAN/iQ storage software and
its excellent management capabilities. The combination of LeftHand's
software and Hewlett-Packard's hardware (the units I tested were 2U
DL185 servers) creates a true n-way clustered architecture, allowing
for a combination of load balancing and failover.
This architecture allows multiple storage controllers (servers with
drive arrays) to present to administrators, users and applications as a
single logical system. This facilitates expansion because a single node
can be taken offline to upgrade components (such as CPU, RAM or NICs)
without downing the whole cluster.
For images of the HP LeftHand P4300 4.8TB SAS Starter SAN Solution, click here.
New storage controllers can be added very easily. During eWEEK
Labs' tests, I added one to my cluster in less than 15 minutes simply
by assigning IP addresses and an admin user name and password. This
sort of flexibility is worth its weight in gold in the always-on world
of enterprise storage. In contrast, the Cybernetics mi-SAN-D I recently reviewed
offers only active/passive failover, which means no load balancing and offline upgrades only.
After racking and connecting the dual power supplies, dual 1G-bps
NICs for data and a third NIC to my management network, I powered up
the two units that are bundled together in the HP LeftHand P4300 4.8TB
SAS Starter SAN Solution, which starts at $35,000. (Alternatively, a
12TB SATA Starter SAN starts at $30,000.)
The first system booted smoothly and launched an ugly but useful
installation tool with which I configured the server name, IP
networking, and an admin user name and password. The second server
started, but failed to recognize the array controller and therefore
didn't boot completely.
Of course, the first thing I did then was take the server
apart, at which point I noticed that the board containing the SAN/iQ
software had fallen off of the P400 RAID controller-obviously a
casualty of rough handling during shipping. Popping it back on did not
solve the problem, but after an e-mail and a quick call, a new
controller and a third server were on their way. After I installed the
new controller, the server booted up smoothly.
The next step was to install the Windows Solution Pack and the
SAN/iQ management console on my Microsoft Windows 2003 EE server. The
Windows Solution Pack includes the LeftHand DSM (Device Specific
Module) for MPIO, which greatly improves performance between Windows
Server and the cluster, and the VDS and VSS providers necessary for
virtual machine storage management.