CATEGORY: Storage

REVIEWER: Stan Kolasa, associate director of Rutgers University Computing Services.

BACKGROUND: Rutgers University, based in Camden, New Jersey, is one of the nation's leading public research universities. Rutgers has more than 47,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, and has 26 degree-granting divisions, 12 undergraduate colleges, 11 graduate schools and three schools offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Rutgers, chartered in 1766, is the eighth oldest college in the nation and is designated as the State University of New Jersey.

PLATFORMS: SANnet 3200 from Dot Hill runs on a Solaris 8 operating system with a Sun Microsystems Ultra 80 system platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Rutgers required a RAID data storage solution for our Solaris e-mail/Web server that provides e-mail and Web access for the entire student population (6,000) located at the Camden campus. We needed a solution that would meet the University's needs in terms of price, performance and size. We also required that the solution be scalable and have a RAID system which would ensure the safety and availability of the data. After carefully evaluating several RAID storage solutions on the market, we selected Dot Hill's SANnet storage solution, specifically model 3200, because it met all of our criteria. SANnet is extremely scalable because of its modular architecture and even more reliable because it is built to carrier-class standards. We felt SANnet gave us our needed disk space requirement of more than 130MB, along with room for easy expandability and RAID 5 redundancy and reliability that features three power supplies, three internal fans and dual controller ­ all at a good price.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Our RAID system has run flawlessly and has exceeded all of our expectations. Overall, we have been very satisfied with our SANnet RAID system and with the services we received from Dot Hill.

STRENGTHS: Availability ­ SANnet's carrier-class reliability guarantees unsurpassed uptime and is very important in a university environment where users are accessing the data stored on the e-mail/Web server 24x7 every day of the year. Scalability ­ the modular architecture of the SANnet system allows us to expand and grow as our storage needs grow.

WEAKNESSES: Although the documentation was good, it could have been improved with a more basic explanation of the terms and diagrams.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected the SANnet system because of its scalability, redundancy, reliability and value. While we only needed 130MB, we want the ability to scale the system as our storage needs grow. SANnet gives us that scalability while protecting our initial investment. The built-in redundancy of power supplies, fans and controllers gives us the reliability we need for our continuous computing environment. The SANnet was very competitively priced and offered the best value, which is very important for a cost-conscious public university.

DELIVERABLES: The SANnet storage system provides data storage for the Solaris e-mail/Web server utilized by the student body at Rutgers Camden. Since this RAID system was to be installed on our main e-mail/Web server for our student population, one of our concerns was downtime. I was delighted to find that the engineer managed to install the RAID system, bring it up and have it recognized by our UNIX server without even having to reboot our server. So we had zero downtime.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Once we ordered the RAID system, it arrived quickly and included a visit from an engineer at Dot Hill to set up the system. We arranged a date for the installation, working with an account executive at Dot Hill who corresponded with us via e-mail and phone and responded very quickly to all of our questions. When the day of the installation arrived, the engineer from Dot Hill installed the RAID system according to our specs in less than one hour. When I needed additional manuals or the optional SANscape storage management software, they were quick to deliver them to me.

DOCUMENTATION: My Dot Hill account executive and installation engineer were both very helpful, and technical explanations were very clear and thorough. The documentation was also thorough, but it would be easier to understand with basic explanations of terms and diagrams for reference.

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