By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-01-10 Print this article Print

Data migration is a big headache for IT managers because it is time-consuming and typically requires a lot of downtime. Using the RainStorage 4.0 appliance in tests at eWEEK Labs, however, we could easily migrate shares between file servers and NAS devices without downtime.

Rainfinity Inc.s RainStorage 4.0 appliance lets IT managers seamlessly migrate file shares throughout a network. The appliance is far more mature than previous-generation units weve tested, and it now includes useful SRM (storage resource management) capabilities.

In contrast to software solutions such as NSI Softwares DoubleTake, which replicates data from a primary server to a target server, RainStorage 4.0 performs data migration. In other words, the RainStorage appliance moves data while software solutions basically create copies of data.

RainStorage 4.0, which started shipping last month, costs $80,000, with no limits on the number of filers or file servers managed. The appliance is pricey compared with software-only tools and is best suited for enterprises and midsize businesses with many file shares to handle.

Unlike the previous RainStorage appliance, which eWEEK Labs tested more than a year ago, RainStorage 4.0 has CIFS (Common Internet File System) support in addition to support for NFS (Network File System). This will let the appliance work with Microsoft Corp. Windows file servers and Windows Storage Server.

The latest RainStorage includes bandwidth management capabilities that limit the amount of data in a set period of time and prevent migration operations from flooding a corporate network. After a migration is completed, the appliance intercepts file requests until network share mappings are rewritten on clients.

RainStorage 4.0s Web-based management tool let us locate servers and NAS (network-attached storage) devices in our network that were overworked (in terms of CPU use) or overloaded (with data). We could then use the tool to locate unused file servers and NAS units to which we could offload data.

The RainStorage management tools can also analyze storage tiers, which is important for IT managers who have an ILM (information lifecycle management) storage infrastructure. Using the storage tier tool, we could see what data should be moved to nearline storage and what data should remain in high-performance storage.

The RainStorage appliance we tested directly polled only Network Appliance Inc. systems for performance and storage-usage data. By the time this review is published, additional software will be available that will let RainStorage 4.0 poll Windows-based and EMC Corp. NAS servers for SRM information, according to Rainfinity officials.

The updated RainStorage software will include tools that will automate the drive-mapping update process, directing clients to new file shares after a migration is completed.

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

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.


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