Who You Calling SCSI?
We can forgive some omissions because The MD3000i does strike an even balance between features and price. Automated I/O path failover, automatic array failure detection and rebuild using a standby hot spare are available out of the box. Premium features like snapshot technology and volume-copy functionality can be purchased as software upgrades.
In the lab, we were very impressed with the simplicity of Dell's MD Storage Manager application. The Java-based management GUI was very simple to navigate and performed as quickly as a well-written client/server application. As for setup, we managed to rack and configure the device and get a server connected to an array in just one hour. We opted to read the manual, but if you're pressed for time, Dell offers a Remote Implementation Service in which a technician connects to your management station via WebEx and guides you through configuration of your array and host servers. Best of all, RIS is free. Who needs training when you can see a live implementation in your own environment?
Although we were comfortable installing the SAN ourselves, we decided to put RIS to the test, and we were very impressed with how quickly an engineer completely configured our SAN and trained us on product functionality. This is definitely a major value-add, especially for smaller organizations with over-stretched IT staff. On-site installation is also available for a fee.
Easy installation and a slick GUI are nice, but they're all for naught if the product doesn't meet expectations. Fortunately, the unit's performance impressed us too. We copied a 500MB file from an iSCSI-connected server to our test PC within seconds. All four of our iSCSI ports were linked to an Extreme Networks 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, which served as our back-end SAN switch fabric. While the MD3000i does not specifically require Gigabit Ethernet, it is strongly recommended.