Summary : Sun StorEdge A5200 Array

From: Colin Haffenden <>
Date: Thu Aug 07 2003 - 05:44:54 EDT
Thanks to

Glen May
Hichael Morton
Jay Lessert
Aaron M. Hirsch
Hans Jacobsen
Eugene Schmidt

And anyone else I've missed by mistake!

General feeling was that this was a great bit of kit, if configured
correctly. Unforunatly for me I did not realise that the A5200 doesn't
support hardware RAID, only software. It does come with a built in vxvm
license if you want to use software RAID though.

I got more than enough info on this so I have added peoples comments

Thanks again!

the a5200 is a great piece of hardware.
they work great.

disksuite (or solaris volume manager in solaris 9) can be used to

you can manage each disk separately.

veritas volume manager can also be used and the a5200 has a built-in 
vxvm license.
Good Morning Colin,

I have a fair amount of experience with the 5200, I suppose before I
really can answer your questions, I would need to know how you are going
to utilize the machine. 

It does NOT have a raid controller built into it. You would have to run
software raid if that is what you want to do. As for the machine itself,
it is VERY solid, and stable. I have seen very few issues with the box
to speak of. 

Administration on the enclosure is very minimal, it has a touch screen
front panel that you can do most of the administration from, other than
that it is simply fibre attached drives. 

My biggest word of caution when it comes to the 5X00 enclosures is
their weight. THEY ARE A 2 PERSON LIFT!!! A full array weighs in at
almost 200 pounds. 

Let me know how you are planning on using the machine, and I will see
if I can get you some better information. 

Glenn May
I have never seen a hardware raid card for a 5x00 series enclosure,
however that does not mean they don't exist. 

If you want Fibre raid, the only Sun solution is the T-3. It's a bit of
a beast on it's own, and requires a bit to configure, but all in all it
is a pretty cool little machine. As long as you don't want to keep
re-configuring, it's pretty good.

I know there is MANY software raid packages on the market for these
products, but if you are already running a DB on the machine, software
raid may be a bit counter productive. 

I have seen scsi raid cards for servers that puts the hardware raid on
the server side, but takes it away from the processor. 

How large of a configuration is this, very busy site, or not so? If
it's mildly busy, you may be able to get away with one of the much less
expensive ATA raid enclosures. Not made by Sun. However, I am assuming
that you are running Sun hardware currently, and would like to keep that
up. The other option is the A1000 enclosure. 

As a side note on it. I am not sure how familiar with RAID you are, but
it is a bit finicky, and requires a bit of finesse periodically to
configure. Once it is up, then you are good to go. 

One more option for you, not sure what your budget is, would be the Sun
3x00 series of RDACs. There is a 3500fc that is Fibre based. The system
consists of an RDAC, and multiple enclosures. Either D1000s, or RSM
trays. Sometimes you can pick these up off lease fairly inexpensively.
It may be a bit more storage than you require, but who ever has enough
storage. <GRIN>

Hope I have been of some help to you. I'll be happy to answer any more


veritas dones raid 5
disksuite 4.2.1 (included in the solaris 8 02/02 media kit) does raid
solaris 9's volume manager does raid 5

the above 3 are software raid products.  the a5200 does not have
hardware raid.

sources for further information...
a google search on a5200

there are a variety of configurations for multiple a5200s.  the norm
to use two connections to each a5200 for redundancy.  a fibre hub can
also be used.  i have never heard of daisy-chaing them since that is
not a viable option in a production environment (plus, used fibre
are cheap).  

be sure to check the sun systems handbook at for
compatibility between the a5200, fibre cards, and your server.
I use a pair of A5200's.

They seem fine - not overly difficult to administer...
However, we're buying more storage, and the A5200 line is old - the
are newer... If you buy used A5200 might be your best bet, but new,
On Wed, Aug 06, 2003 at 09:45:30AM +0100, Colin Haffenden wrote:
> Does anybody have any experience with the above array?

They are very common, Sun sold a lot of them.

> We are considering buying one

New or used?

Sun still sells new, mostly for customers who are expanding existing
installations, I guess.  But for an initial install, there probably
more cost-effective boxes.  A5200 will never support a 2Gb/s
for example.

Used, there are some great deals on the secondary market, but make
sure your vendor will work with you to make sure disk and enclosure
firmware are up-to-date.

Sun sells at least one HBA (X6729A, FC100/P) which has severe
restrictions on multihosting an A5200.

> and I would just like some input before
> we do. I just want to know how good these are,

They are very stable and reliable.  They are not particularly fast
in multiuser/small file applications (no HW RAID, no NV cache).

> are they easy to
> expand/administer, etc?

I don't think you can say that *any* fibre channel/volume manager
disk system is easy to administer.  If you are already familiar
with fibre channel and VxVM (or SVM), you will find the A5200
straightforward.  If you are not, you have a lot of learning to

The administration of these arrays is pretty straight forward, however
you have to ensure that the firmware levels on all the hardware match
and that you keep the patch levels up to date.  We experienced
"offline" (dropping of the loops) frequently when they weren't.  Which
brings us to the aspect of setting up multiple path to the device
you loose one loop.  The photon technology works, but it does have
Hi Colin

Plenty of experience on these. Since they came out as the A5000, then
and later the A5200.

Be aware that they are JBOD - no intelligent controller for RAID etc.
However, having said that, they are bundled with a Veritas Volume
license for one system each.

This comes into it's own when using larger files systems/raw areas. Try
stripe at least 3 to 4 disks. Then they sing.

I recommend dual attaching them and using the Veritas license to get
Even though they are FC-AL and not fabric, the DMP ability gives you
(200 MB) throughput.

In benchmarks they have outperformed larger more expensive high end
if well configured.

Good all round workhorses.

Expandibility is easy ( adding additional disks, removing disks via
devfsadm etc )

If connected via hubs or switches ( 3 x A5200 per FC_AL hub = total of
disks), whole arrays can be added/removed without shutdown.

Further, each A5200 can have up to 4 host connects over two loops.
Array can be split into two arrays (Front = 11 disks and rear = 11
with this type of attach, up to 400 MB/sec can be achieved!

They only problem I ever had with them was the old Vixel GBICs. Sun
since replaced all of these GBICs with IBM GBICs which resolved all

A great array - from experience.



Original message below....

Hi All,

Apologies if this is slightly off-topic.

Does anybody have any experience with the above array?

We are considering buying one and I would just like some input before
we do. I just want to know how good these are, are they easy to
expand/administer, etc?

Any help would be great.


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Received on Thu Aug 7 05:49:35 2003

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