MTI Corp.s Vivant D-100 fibre Channel RAID unit provides the familiarity of a direct-attached storage product while offering the ability to be upgraded to a full-fledged SAN device.
Judging from analysts market predictions, storage area networks will dominate the IT landscape over the next few years, but looking at todays spending patterns, we see that far and away the vast majority of IT dollars are still being spent on good old DAS products.
MTIs Vivant D-100 affords IT managers flexibility, giving them a solid Fibre Channel storage unit that can be set up to directly attach to server units via its on-board Fibre Channel adapters or that can be uplinked to a Fibre Channel switch to become a SAN storage unit.
Shipping since last month, the Vivant D-100 has a list price beginning at $46,800 for a basic unit.
In tests at eWeek Labs, we started out with a Vivant D-100 DAS unit and upgraded it to a Vivant S-200 SAN unit by adding MTIs DataShield LUN (Logical Unit Number) masking software and two Brocade Communications Systems Inc. eight-port Fibre Channel switches.
The Vivant storage units were installed in our labs by MTIs professional services engineers, but the setup process is not exceedingly difficult to do on your own.
Hardware redundancy is one of the most important features of the Vivant D-100. The device supports multiple RAID configurations, and its global hot-spares support allows IT managers in an emergency to use any available drive to replace a crashed hard drive within a storage system.
The Vivant D-100 RAID controllers are arranged in pairs for redundancy and to provide load balancing.
Each controller uses a mirrored cache with battery backup, along with a high-speed interconnect that mirrors the cache contents, which ensures that in the event of a cache failure, controller failure or power disruption, data will not be lost.
When upgraded to a SAN unit, the Vivant supports multipathing of the Fibre Channel components (helpful in case a controller, switch or cable fails), and the addition of the switches allowed us to easily add hosts.
Our biggest gripe with the Vivant D-100 is about its firmware. For some inexplicable reason, LUNs can only be deleted in sequential order. After creating four LUNs in the Vivant D-100, we noticed that we could not delete the second one unless we deleted the next two.
This weakness is annoying, and MTI officials said they expect to fix it (via a firmware upgrade) sometime in the near future.
A minor weakness of the Vivant D-100 lies in its management tools, which are a little scattershot.
The tools run out of band (on IP) and are browser-based. After a slow launch process, they run fairly smoothly and most are easy to navigate, but their number should be reduced.