Danish ASP Likes iSCSI

Application services provider uses IP SAN to host financial data

March 11, 2005

2 Min Read
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Danish application service provider (ASP) SDC Udvikling has proven that iSCSI can win out even in shops where Fibre Channel is entrenched (see EqualLogic Powers Big Euro IP SAN).

SDC IT consultant Bo Christiansen says he was already running Fibre Channel systems from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) when he decided to consolidate his SANs last year. The ASP hosts data from 85 financial institutions, and Christiansen set out to consolidate 550 branch offices with servers in each office onto 12 Dell servers in the data center.

He heard about price advantages from iSCSI so decided to check it out. He evaluated systems from Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT), EqualLogic Inc., and FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC) as well as new Fibre Channel systems from Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Hitachi, and HP.

Christiansen admits to a bent toward IP. We preferred IP if it could perform,” Christiansen says. “It’s easier to manage. We did a lot of testing, and the benchmarks are pretty good compared to Fibre Channel SANs. We are happy with it.” In the end, Christiansen says he picked EqualLogic based on throughput performance and price.

During the consolidation, Christiansen phased out his existing HP Modular Smart Array (MSA) 1000 system onto eight EqualLogic PS50e, PS100e, and PS200e systems (see EqualLogic Unfurls iSCSI Flag and EqualLogic Expands SAN Line). Now he has 30 Tbytes stored on EqualLogic systems and plans to double that by moving storage from other Fibre Channel systems later this year.Christiansen says the consolidation went as planned, and he estimates he spent about one third as much on iSCSI as he would have on Fibre Channel. He emphasizes that iSCSI did more than save him money, though. He said it cut the time to install servers from six hours to 10 minutes. He also finds Ethernet connections easier to work with than Fibre Channel.

“We had difficulties setting up HBAs on Fibre Channel SANs,” he says. “The drivers and firmware on the cards have to be very well aligned.” He’s using Adaptec iSCSI HBAs with the EqualLogic systems.

As for performance, he says he found no tradeoff. Indeed, he says he noticed a 30 percent improvement on some applications after moving them from HP MSA1000 to EqualLogic systems.

Christiansen can see SDC eventually becoming an all-iSCSI shop. He would like to see more IP SAN choices, though. “The market is not as big as I prefer. There’s not many to choose from."

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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