Publisher opts for EqualLogic iSCSI SAN system over Lefthand

Ink Publishing opts for Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN in two-horse race with Lefthand Networks, winning out on redundancy.

Magazine publisher, Ink, has implemented a Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN. The vendor won out in a bake off for the £30,000 implementation against fellow iSCSI SAN specialist Lefthand Networks over redundancy issues.

Ink Publishing produces more then 30 magazine titles for airlines and other businesses. It has 130 employees in four offices in the UK, US, Hong Kong and Singapore and was storing sales data and magazine content from core applications including Exchange, SQL, Saleslogic CRM software and Adobe Indesign to eight Dell and HP servers at its London premises.

 What we liked about the EqualLogic iSCSI SAN was that it all came in one box
Colin Dash
IT ManagerInk Publishing

The company has experienced data growth of around 50% a year for the last four years. Three years ago it was producing new data at a rate of 40 gigabytes per week and now that figure is up to 600 GB per week.

IT manager, Colin Dash, says, "As data volumes grew we would have to reconfigure existing servers or buy new ones to cope. And if one of those died we were in big trouble, so we felt we wanted to put everything in one place and make our storage server independent."

Ink opted for a Dell EqualLogic PS300e with 7 TB of capacity on SATA drives after also evaluating Lefthand Networks' NSM160 iSCSI SAN modules.

The issue that swung the deal in EqualLogic's favour was redundancy. LeftHand achieves it on its arrays by installing three separate hardware devices while EqualLogic achieves the same goal in a single device in which all the hardware is fully redundant.

Dash says, "What we liked about the EqualLogic iSCSI SAN was that it all came in one box, while Lefthand's solution would have needed three and we were concerned there would be throughput issues in cases where one box went down."

Ink's procurement and implementation period lasted nine months, with most of that made up with evaluation, including a three month period of price negotiations in which £3,000 was shaved off initial quotes to give a total cost of £30,000.

Benefits include increased resiliency and the option to implement remote disaster recovery hardware at a later date.

Dash says, "Now we know if a server dies it is not an issue and we don't need to go looking to find out which one. Snapshotting of drives, which takes place up to five times during the day, is another bonus that means we can roll backwards if anything untoward happens. We'll also be able to add replication going forward as the capability is already in the box."

iSCSI SANs are beginning to gain significant market share owing to ease of use and lower cost. A 2007 IDC survey of 500 storage professionals in Europe found that 70% had a SAN system in their organisation and that 25% of those questioned had deployed an iSCSI SAN somewhere in their environment.

"We wanted to go with an iSCSI SAN for reasons of cost and ease of use," says Dash. "To use Fibre Channel we would have meant we needed to go on a training course before we were able to use it and the cost of the hardware would have been two or three times as great."

 iSCSI advantages of cost and ease of use are driving SAN system adoption in the SME segment of the market. IDC research shows that 40% of organisations with less than 10 servers do not have a SAN system, whereas they are ubiquitous among organisations with more than 10 TB of data.

Dennis Szubert, principal analyst with analyst group Quocirca, says, "In the enterprise SANs are widespread and the space could even be said to be saturated. SAN in the small organisation is still in early days, but iSCSI and server virtualisation are driving SAN adoption in the SMB sector."

He adds, "Dell's recent takeover of iSCSI vendor EqualLogic and a slew of iSCSI products from all the big players aimed at this sector are testimony to this. Networked storage is a pre-requisite for any organisation wanting to take advantage of a virtual servers infrastructure and to protect all those consolidated servers."


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