SUMMARY: Request comments on 3rd-partuy RAID arrays

From: Steve Edberg <>
Date: Wed Nov 06 2002 - 06:10:50 EST
To summarize (see original posting at bottom), I got a recommendation 
for Nexsan's AtaBoy2 RAID array (internal IDE, external SCSI) from 
someone who purchased one for their Sun server. They look very 
attractive (large battery-backed cache, good management, multiple IDE 
busses, multiple SCSI busses, good expansion capacity). Now I'm just 
waiting to see if they are affordable.

I also got several references from various Sun equipment vendors who 
had refurbished & other units for sale. I could get a second A1000, 
but I think I may soon be needing more capacity than 12 36.4GB drives 
can handle. If I could get a really good price on a Sun 3300 or T3, 
that would certainly be a possibility. Rack space is also a 
consideration, though: I'd like to keep the box to 4RU or less.

Thanks to:
Doug Otto
David Harrington
Jed Dobson
John Sullivan
Mike Carter
Ted John
Tim Chipman
Christophe Dupre
Julie Peers
Tony Bacon


Be carefull with the IDE stuff as the performance blows.  IDE is a
blocking bus; i.e. only one talker at a time.

<my comment>
True, but in this particular case I'm more money-constrained than 
speed-constrained. The speed-critical partitions (eg; /, /var, swap, 
databases) will stay on the existing Fiberchannel & UltraSCSI arrays; 
home directories & some large data directories will move to the new 
unit. And, many of the IDE-based arrays use multiple IDE busses 
connected to the array controller, so the bus blocking isn't an 
issue. I think the Nexsan units use one IDE bus per drive, even on 
their 14-bay units.
</my comment>
I have used nStor for my external storage ( Excellent 
support, prices at 35-50% of Sun for a similar piece of equipment.
Did you look at Sun StorEdge 3300? This would be good deal being .Edu 
customer of Suns. Pretty inexpensive too.

<my comment>
It does look pretty attractive:

but I think for my storage needs it still might be a bit pricey, even 
with a educational discount.
</my comment>
      One place we've gotten many RAID systems from is a small
company in Cleveland called PerifiTech.  They have a SCSI-SCSI
RAID that has 9 drives in a 2U chassis, or 12 drives in a 3U.
I do some work at NASA Glenn Research Center, and I've seen them
on many Sun, SGI, and Linux boxes; I know they do business all over
the world, and the price/performance is the best I've seen.  Their
local number here is 216-332-0655; I don't know if they have a toll-
free, but their web page ( might say.
Disclaimer - I'm somewhat biased; though most of my contact with
them has been as a user, I've also done some consulting for them
in the past (and am doing a small project now).
I would not go with JetStor myself, but that up to you. Have you checked
with Winchester? I know they make a good SCSI system but I don't know if
the do IDE backend.

I would make sure they have a return policy if it doesn't work to your
expectations. I didn't do that with JetStor and After not being able to
get their array to run at my required speed (U160), (they say it's the
controller or system issue), I wanted to return it and they said NO. I
checked with Winchester and they have a 30day money back guaranty.

>From what I can tell the Raidweb gear is just OEM re-badged generic IDE
raid units that can be bought from a variety of vendors under slightly
different names / product ##'s (but appearance is always so close, as is
model, that they clearly are "the same".

AFAIK, this gear is not quite so "cutting edge", ie, I first saw them on
market ~ 2 years ago, and they haven't clearly changed  a ton since
then, other than adding more ram cache (really not a big deal in most
cases so long as you have 64 megs or more).

The Jetstor appears to be more actively developed, AFAIK, and looks very
nice.  I've heard after making a similar inquiry to this list one
negative feedback, which was that there were problems getting reliable
data Xfer running @ Ultra-160 onto the 3rd party UltraScsi card
(antares?) in a sunsparc box. The person who gave me this feedback
indicated that the reliability wasn't a problem at "Ultra-80" speeds or
slower, but was a problem @ U-160.  He did NOT get the help he wanted
from the vendor (AC&NC), because it worked fine when connected to a
Windows box via Ultra160 hardware. So - it was a weird sounding problem.


If it is of any use, I've certainly found the sales people at AC&NC
(jetstor) very fast, efficient, knowledgable - I've gotten quotes from
them a few times (despite not buying any gear yet, alas) and they seem
very on top of things.  Plus, their prices / gear *ARE* tracking "the
market" quite well, ie, not long after 200-gig IDE drives were
announced, JetStor models were available with 200gig IDE drives. No
delay nonsense at all, and certainly such large disks helps drop the
cost per gig *SIGNIFICANTLY* (ie, you can get a 2.6-TB-raid5-array
(usable) on 200 x 14 drives for approx $10,000 US I think) Not too
shoddy when you look at what many other vendors charge per gig :-)
Also check out Nexsan's ATABoyII. That have a 14-bay model, the RAID 
controller can have up to 512MB of cache, and they support Ultra160 

Forgot inthe previous message :-)

Hi Steve,
I have one ATAboyII on order. I'm very satisfied with the overall 
design, and had the pleasure to meet one of the engineer at a 
conference last year where they had a unit on demo, so I was able to 
play a bit with the admin interface.

We'll be using our new ATABoy2 as a home area for users, to replace 
our A3500 which Sun discontinued and make very expensive to support.

I don't like the A1000 very much, I find RM6 a clunky interface. As for speed:
- The Nexsan has more cache than the A1000 I had some time ago.
- I'm not sure the all-SCSI is that much faster: 7200 vs 10K vs 15K 
does make a small difference when dealing with tons of small files 
(but caching will help). However, the raw transfer rate is very close 
on IDE and SCSI. Also, the Nexsan does I/O reordering on the 
controller, to counteract the SCSI native scatter-gather.
I have not tried third party arrays but the Sun D1000 seems the obvious
At Sun they call it the JBOD-Just a bunch of disks
Not sure if it would be in your budget though

ORIGINAL MESSAGE (8:41 AM -0800 11/4/02):

Hi -

I've got a Sunfire 280R/Solaris 8 with an A1000 SCSI RAID array, and 
I've been looking at some third-party vendors to add additional 
storage. My top two contenders are both internal IDE -> external SCSI 

(1) Raidweb Arena 2400

	Currently only supports 1 array
	4 RU, 12 bays, 128-512MB cache

(2) JetStor III IDE

	Supports 2 independent interfaces
	3 RU, 64-512MB cache (8 bay) (14 bay)

Anybody using either of these? Any good/bad reviews? I didn't find 
many opinions via google. I'm open to other suggestions too, but I'm 
limited to ~$4,500US for a driveless array.

| Steve Edberg                             |
| University of California, Davis                          (530)754-9127 |
| Programming/Database/SysAdmin      |
| SETI@Home: 1001 Work units on 23 oct 2002                              |
| 3.152 years CPU time, 3.142 years SETI user... and STILL no aliens...  |
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Received on Wed Nov 6 06:14:12 2002

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