Maxxan Systems Inc.s Maxxan SA100f storage appliance, the first intelligent SAN switch appliance to hit the market, is a solid product that convincingly demonstrates the power of intelligent storage area network switches.
The Maxxan SA100f, the first intelligent SAN switch to market, packs storage virtualization functionality in to a workgroup-class appliance. Geared primarily for smaller remote sites, the SA100f, when running FalconStors IPStor software, can be a powerful data protection appliance. And when used with Microsofts upcoming Windows Storage Server 2003 software, the SA100f has the potential to be a powerful NAS gateway. Its reasonably priced at $27,500 with Fibre Channel or IP SAN client support.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
The SA100f, which shipped in April, supports FalconStor Software Inc.s IPStor 3.7 storage virtualization software for Fibre Channel or IP SAN clients. A version of the SA100f appliance that supports Windows Storage Server 2003 (for network-attached storage capabilities) is slated to ship this month; prices for the Windows Storage Server 2003 edition had not been announced at press time.
The SA100f features redundant, hot-pluggable power supplies and fan modules for cooling and power redundancy. Although it is geared for smaller sites and workloads, the SA100f has identical functionality to Maxxans SA200f application blades (albeit without the scalability), which give the Maxxan MXV320 its intelligence.
The SA100f, loaded with FalconStors IPStor, worked well on our test network, which consisted of two host servers, two JBOD (just a bunch of disk) systems and twin SA100f appliances connected to each other.
The SA100f appliance offers a 2U (3.5-inch) rack-mount form with 10 2G-bps Fibre Channel interfaces and two Gigabit Ethernet host connections, for a total of 12 ports. A serial port and management port provide management access to the SA100f.
The processing power to run bandwidth-intensive storage applications comes from twin Intel Corp. 2.4GHz Xeon processors, and the appliance is capable of holding 12GB of RAM (the basic $27,500 configuration includes 2GB of RAM).
For on-board storage, two microdrives, mirrored for failover protection, are used to store the storage applications.
In tests running IPStor, the SA100fs functionality was identical to what we would expect from a FalconStor server. The major difference is that the SA100f operates on a simpler SAN topology, whereby additional servers are not needed to run the software.
Virtualization support is included with the basic license, but mirroring, replication and snapshots are add-on licenses that cost extra.
In our tests, the SAN management software that is available for the Maxxan MXV320 couldnt manage the SA100f (which would have provided a single point of management for both products). According to Maxxan officials, that flaw should be addressed in the near future. Despite this deficiency, we found it was still fairly easy to manage devices using the SA100fs simple Web-based interface.
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