SUMMARY: Compaq/DEC SAN solutions?

From: Josh Wyatt (
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 13:09:28 CDT

Hi all,
The responses I got were mostly positive from users of the compaq
solution, but generally warning about limitations imposed by Compaq's
SecurePath technology.
Another interesting sidepoint mentioned is that no 64-bit Solaris is
supported with Compaq's SAN.

The consensus seems to indicate that it's a worthy product, and is
basically the rebranded StorageWorks stuff. Also seems that JNI is the
best choice in terms of adapters; I thought they had a 64-bit adapter
and driver?

At least one person recommended going with NetApp which would probably
be OK (our needs will mostly be oracle-centric) but as he mentioned, I
don't have much of a choice :) .

Thanks to:
Stephen Harris
Matt Reynolds
S.M. Doyle
Greg Mushen
Tim Lindgren
Paul Yahnig
Richard Hogg
Steve Haight
...and a couple of others who wished not to be mentioned by name, but
should be thanked anyway.

My original request and some responses to follow...

Original request:
> Greetings fellow managers,
> Does anyone have any experience using Compaq's storage area network
> solutions with Sun hardware?
> The intel side of our shop is pretty Compaq-centric, and they'll be
> moving to Compaq's products. How well will the Sun hardware play? I've
> heard informally from Compaq groupies (read: resellers) that it works
> and works well, but I don't know what's involved, i.e. what brand fiber
> adapters, etc. (Sun's? J-Cor?)
> I will solicit Compaq's tech info from them of course, but I would
> really like to get the inside scoop from managers who have this in
> production currently.
> Thanks in advance and will summarize,
> Josh Wyatt
> Unix SysAdmin
> NC Dept. of Public Instruction

>From Greg Mushen:
> Hi Josh,
> We are currently using Compaq's SAN solutions in our Sun environment. We
> have really enjoyed it. We currently have three configurations, the latest
> is utilizing the GS80 controllers and the small form factor 18GB drives (we
> plan on replacing them with the 36GB once they are released).
> Compaq has a special kind of HBA that they sell along with it (OEM'd by some
> other company). Your Compaq rep will know which ones to get.
> All in all, I'd highly recommend it. The other option is EMC, but they are
> spendy and are mostly good for the database side of the house.

Richard Hogg said:
> Josh,
> I've had some experience with the Compaq SAN stuff. It works OK until you
> start to get into clever stuff like SecurePath, etc.
> The main bugbear, is at the moment, it doesn't support 64-bit Solaris, so
> you have to either run Soalris 2.6 or 7 in 32-bit mode.

Steve Haight made some interesting observations about his config:
> I've connected an Ultra-2 and a UE4000 using the JNI adapters provided
> by Compaq. I've also connected a UE4500 and two UE3500s using the
> onboard fiberloop with GBICs provided by both Compaq and Sun (they both
> have IBM printed on them anyway). Power up time for this controller
> pair is right now at 363 days with no problems. The worst nag I can
> recall right now is that whenever one of the hosts reboots or is
> drvconfig'ed, all the others register the event with a fiberlink UP
> message on the console that looks suspiciously like an io error, but it
> hasn't been anything the OS didn't cover for and I suspect is an issue
> with FC-AL architecture in general.
> I'm supposed to be getting a shiny new fiber switch to play with soon :)
> Steve Haight

Here's an excellent response from Tim Lindgren which is worth posting in
its entirety:
> I just did some due-diligence with Compaq and found the Dec RAID controller to
> be hellaciously fast! The CMQ disks are only scsi vs. fibre-channel so you still
> have bottleneck, single point of failure, and growth issues. Plus the software
> can only cut a Raided diskgroup into 8 logical lun's vs. 32 like STK or EMC.
> The Lun masking aspect for Sun is a bit kludgy, and you risk an NT admin from
> taking over your Sun lun's without them even knowing about it.
> CPQ uses Brocade switches, like most others, which "should" come out with 32
> and 64 port switched by years end, which is good. Keeps the port cost low.
> To have load-balancing on Sun between dual-connect I/O boards is yet to be
> proven by CPQ, but they say it's coming in 2000. Transparent failover between
> the 2 boards is also - up in the air.
> When I spoke with compaq engineering, they said "Sure we can make the controller
> work with Sun". Not a real warm fuzzy if you ask me - but some companies have
> connected them to Sun machines, so it does work - just needs some parental
> supervision. For NT on the otherhand - it's a dream to cut a lun and manage it.
> So your CPQ folks have a lot of fire power - leaving you with, well, a hard to
> manage, un-trusted SAN.
> The CMQ does not support DR if your insterested in that aspect, and you also
> give up RAID mgnt to the NT group just by the way they devised the volume mgmt
> software.
> Lastly - The cost per GB on CPQ Storage networks is VERY low, compared to Sun,
> STK or BMC. So if cost is a factor - you'll be buying CPQ!
> Hope it helps.
> Tim

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