NetApp, Compellent, HP, Dell top the field in 12-product test

Security, management and data protection are key differentiators

A terabyte isn't what it used to be. Disks are slower than you think. And a Gigabit Ethernet is plenty of bandwidth for many storage applications.

How we tested iSCSI SANs

Archive of Network World tests

Those are the three conclusions we came to after an intense round of testing 12 iSCSI storage-area network (SAN) servers.

SANs, previously the exclusive domain of the largest data centers in the world, have been thrust into the realm of possibility for most enterprise and even some midsize organizations because of the incredible popularity of virtualization. Rather than trying to match present and future CPU, memory and storage needs with a single indivisible box, virtualization lets the data center manager throw lots of resources onto a network, and then slice off as small or as large a chunk as is needed to meet the needs of each application.

SANs, such as the dozen driven by the iSCSI SAN servers we looked at in this test, are one of the many moving parts of this virtualization-focused environment.

While iSCSI SAN servers look astonishingly similar on the outside, we found that there were some substantial differences in the products tested from Celeros, Compellent, Dell (formerly Equallogic), D-Link, FalconStor, HP, Kano Technologies, LeftHand Networks, NetApp, Nexsan, Reldata and Stonefly.

Although performance is an easy differentiator between products with stats ranging from 80Mbps up to 2447Mbps, we found more significant differences in enterprise features such as security, snapshot capabilities, and replication/backup services; hardware design issues such as high availability, expansion parameters, flexibility and load sharing; and, finally, manageability.

Products from NetApp, HP, Compellent and Dell led the results of our tests over and over. LeftHand Networks, StoneFly and FalconStor all had some very high points in our testing, but all also fell way down in their overall management capabilities. We consistently found room for improvement in D-Link, Nexsan, Celeros, and Kano Technologies.

In an attempt to make the results of this test as navigable as possible, we've divided them into six stories based on the area of testing. These topical stories give a deep dive into how the products standup and fall down in the areas of interoperability and compatibility; data protection; power consumption; enterprise features; management and performance

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