CATEGORY: Storage/Hardware

REVIEWER: Brian Holgate, director of operations for Navarro Networks Inc.

BACKGROUND: Navarro Networks Inc., started on March 21, 2000, and funded by Cisco Systems and Sevin Rosen, develops next generation high-speed network processors.

PLATFORMS: Tatung (Sun UltraSparc clones) and Sun Enterprise, all running Solaris 7 and Intel running Windows 98.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were looking for a high-performance storage system that would scale easily as our needs grew. The system had to attach to a Sun Enterprise server and integrate seamlessly with the Solaris operating system. Basically, I was looking for a high-performance plug-and-play system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The sales price included system integration and setup. It is very easy to configure and change with the GUI system that is provided. The original configuration was two 70GB RAID 5 partitions, and I plan on doubling the capacity in the near future. There were a few problems in the beginning that were ironed out when I received a whole new controller and chassis.

STRENGTHS: The product is very robust and reliable. I have not had any downtime since the initial problems. It has a pretty large cache memory on the controller that makes it very high performance (write speeds of >50 megabytes per second). The RAID controller supports all levels of RAID (0, 0+1, 3, 5), has an ethernet interface (for configuration and performance updates over the network) and is set up as a dual active fault tolerant system.

WEAKNESSES: Although the GUI interface is nice, it is also the weakest link of the system. It is just a little bit hokey, as if they did not spend a lot of effort regressing all of the "features."

SELECTION CRITERIA: Zzyzx has always provided top- notch service and support. I looked at a lot of storage systems with my last company and was familiar with several brands and manufacturers. Most RAID systems provide pretty much the same performance and options, but the Zzyzx reputation made the difference.

DELIVERABLES: The controller will provide information about data rates at all of the levels of the system, Fibre Channel interface, RAID set or the RAID controller. It also keeps a log of all symptoms and problems encountered during operation including power failures, drive failures, system over temp, controller failures, etc.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Zzyzx is very good at providing support, both before and after the sale. They understand the true value of happy customers. If you have a problem, they will use all means at their disposal to correct it. When I was having the initial problems with the system, they tried a couple of different fixes and then just replaced the whole system. The trouble I was experiencing, random drives dropping offline, was difficult to troubleshoot due to the randomness.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is the next weakest link in the chain. I am a very technically oriented, hands-on type, so this is not a big problem for me.

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