By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-08-01 Print this article Print

With its ability to work in heterogeneous SAN environments and its impressive scalability, Sun Microsystems Inc.s StorEdge 6920 system is an attractive unit that should expand Suns reach in the storage arena.

The StorEdge 6920, which shipped in June, has SAN (storage area network) virtualization capabilities and is built on a crossbar architecture not commonly found in midrange competitors like EMC Corp.s Clariion, which should make it attractive for IT managers looking to consolidate their SAN storage.

The StorEdge 6920 ranges in size and price from the entry-level 1TB unit at $100,000 to the high-level 12TB unit at $330,000. With expansion cabinets, the StorEdge 6920 should be able to scale up to 50TB on 448 disks—and capacity will continue to increase as hard drives become denser.

The StorEdge 6920s host interoperability is fairly strong, an important consideration for IT managers who want to disperse storage resources to multiple server platforms. IBMs AIX, Hewlett-Packard Co.s HP-UX, Suns Solaris, Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Microsoft Corp.s Windows and Novell Inc.s NetWare are supported.

Currently, the StorEdge 6920 lacks host-connect support for VMware Inc.s VMware, but that will be available in the near future, Sun officials said.

Click here to read Henry Baltazars take on the importance of linking storage and security. The StorEdge 6920 can import storage resources from third-party storage arrays: Support is now available for EMCs Clariion CX series and for HPs Enterprise Virtual Array series of storage devices, in addition to Suns own storage systems. Tapping Suns VLVs (Virtual Legacy Volumes), the StorEdge 6920 can import and manage pre-existing volumes from these external systems.

The benefit of doing volume imports with VLVs is that once a foreign volume is imported to the StorEdge 6920, the array can use its snapshot and replication capabilities to protect the imported volume. As many as 128 VLVs can be imported into the StorEdge 6920. In tests, after we imported a pre-existing volume from a StorEdge 6130, we could use the StorEdge 6920 to replicate the imported volume to another storage unit over a simulated WAN link.

The StorEdge 6920, like most other midrange storage systems, has snapshot capabilities for high-speed data protection and restores. As many as 32 snapshots can be created on each volume (eight of which can be active at one time), and the StorEdge 6920 can hold a maximum of 784 snapshots per system.

The StorEdge 6920 snapshot capabilities were easy to set up and manage in tests. Although the StorEdge 6920 does not have the ability to quiesce applications before taking a snapshot, Sun has written scripts to interface with applications and backup software packages to ensure that clean snapshots are taken.

The StorEdge 6920 can replicate data over WAN links between array units. Both asynchronous and synchronous replications are supported by the StorEdge 6920, and in tests they were both easy to set up. The replication can be used to consolidate data at a disaster recovery site. For example, eight sites can simultaneously consolidate data to a central site.

The StorEdge 6920s storage provisioning is tuned to specific application needs. Currently, 16 profiles are available. Using the StorEdge 6920s management software, we found it easy to allocate the arrays storage resources to pools, which then could be assigned to application servers. However, wed like to see the StorEdge 6920 gain thin-provisioning capabilities because these would allow IT managers to oversubscribe their storage.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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