Product Review Archives
February 2011
Cloud Jumpstart to Staging and Collaborative Workflow Testing
By extending VMware to include the virtualization of an entire prototype environment, including multiple VMs and the applications running on those VMs, CloudShare radically simplifies pre-production tasks, from provisioning to collaborative QA testing.
June 2010
For Virtual Desktops, Latency Matters
Some call it Distributed Computing 2.0. others call it the most profound infrastructure change since the start of distributed computing; but whatever the label, the virtualization of desktop systems is about to bring IT infrastructure to an important tipping point.
April 2010
Jumpstart SAN & LAN Convergence
For IT, the simplest and most immediate strategy to begin to leverage 10GbE in a datacenter, especially when dealing with a VOE, is to begin implementing iSCSI along with LAN networking to provide critical data management services.
February 2010
Unifying Backup and Replication for VMware
Adding to the complexity of today’s datacenter operations are the many regulatory mandates to secure and maintain critical business data at a granular file level. File-level compliance mandates, however, can also complicate another important datacenter initiative: server virtualization.
March 2009
Iconic Migration
Via Web Services, Xiotech moves storage administration out of its device-centric ghetto and into the world of Virtual Operating Environments.
February 2009
SAN Clarity in a Virtual Cloud
As the number of virtual servers sharing the physical FC HBA ports of a VOE server increase, SAN fan-out becomes no longer just a switch issue, but a server HBA issue that mandates holistic management of SAN infrastructure from switches to HBAs.
December 2008
Hyper-Scalability for Virtual Machine I/O
Using Virtual Service Clients and Virtual Service Providers Microsoft’s Hyper-V creates a low-overhead environment for virtual machines that can provide a high degree of scalability on a state-of-the-art SAN.
December 2008
Evolving SAN-aware Virtual Machines
8Gbps SAN infrastructure from QLogic provides both the performance and functionality to scale the next generation of virtual machine infrastructure.
December 2008
One-button iSCSI Management
Using a 5th-generation protocol stack, aggressive load balancing, and sophisticated management software, StorMagic makes short work of SAN configuration and provisioning for SMB sites.
October 2008
Storage Virtualization Panacea
While small and midsize organizations agonize over their servers and networks, many are surprised to find that their computer operations are more frequently slowed down, interrupted or endangered by their data storage configuration. This is not because the equipment is poorly made, but because of physical, geographic and device-specific restrictions common to storage hardware packaging.
July 2008
Data De-duplication: Real Scaling of Virtual Machine Backup
For today’s IT decision makers, storage provisioning is at the core of a perfect storm hitting IT operations. More applications requiring more primary data are coming online, just as IT is changing its backup media of choice from tape to disk. This considerably elevates the importance of any technology, such as data de-duplication, that can help IT contain the consumption of disk resources.
April 2008
iSCSI Redirection
Learn how the Rasilient RASTOR 7500 iSCSI storage server load balances iSCSI traffic at the iSCSI protocol level obtain linear scalability with multple NICs while providing backend support for MPIO on client systems.
March 2008
A Smart SAN Jumpstart Into Virtualizatio
For CIOs today, efficient and effective utilization of IT resources, both capital equipment and human capital, is a top-of-mind proposition. With regulatory-compliance demands escalating and labor costs devouring up to 70% of an IT operations budget, there is a near-desperate need to free-up funding for innovative process change. Making matters worse, CEOs judge IT by its ability to support a business response to a change in marketplace conditions. For a CEO, the value of IT rests in its ability to help gain a competitive edge, better serve customers, mitigate risk, or streamline key business processes: Challenges that often depend on acquiring and leveraging new technologies.
March 2008
A Smart SAN Jumpstart Into Virtualization
For CIOs today, efficient and effective utilization of IT resources, both capital equipment and human capital, is a top-of-mind proposition. With regulatory-compliance demands escalating and labor costs devouring up to 70% of an IT operations budget, there is a near-desperate need to free-up funding for innovative process change. Making matters worse, CEOs judge IT by its ability to support a business response to a change in marketplace conditions. For a CEO, the value of IT rests in its ability to help gain a competitive edge, better serve customers, mitigate risk, or streamline key business processes: Challenges that often depend on acquiring and leveraging new technologies.
March 2008
Real Magic with Virtual Snapshots
By virtualizing SAN storage at the disk-block level, rather than at the RAID-volume-partition level, Compellent is able to implement a snapshot mechanism based entirely on metadata pointers. As a result, Replays provide a fast mechanism with minimal I/O processing overhead to clone disk volumes, which is particularly useful for cloning bootable OS volumes for virtual machines. Moreover, by extending the Replay construct to remote systems, Compellent adds Thin Replication to its repertoire for a radical new approach to automated Disaster Recovery.
January 2008
Insight for Managing Storage as a Service
For CIOs, today’s foremost issue is how to demonstrate that IT is functioning as effectively as the other lines of business within their company. Hard-pressed CIOs, however, have little time for IT Service Management (ITSM) theory and an immediate need for an actionable plan, especially when it comes to their biggest cost-driver: storage management. SANscreen Application Insight from Onaro uniquely empowers IT to align a SAN for maximum application performance at the lowest possible cost, by providing an automated solution for discovery, service monitoring, and capacity management analysis. What’s more, SANscreen Application Insight enables IT to create a clear set of links that tie storage resources, with applications, and business value in order to bridge the gulf between device-centric IT operations management and business process-centric executive strategy.
November 2007
SANitize DAS to Enhance Virtual Infrastructure
With Lefthand Networks Virtual Storage Appliance, systems administrators can leverage direct attached storage to create an iSCSI SAN and put VMs in motion.
November 2007
Insight for Managing Storage as a Service
SANscreen Application Insight from Onaro uniquely empowers IT to align a SAN for maximum application performance at the lowest possible cost, by providing an automated solution for discovery, service monitoring and capacity management analysis.
November 2007
iSCSI Concentration for Tiered Virtualization
The StoneFly Storage Concentrator i4000 is an appliance that extends virtual Fibre Channel-based storage resources via iSCSI over an Ethernet LAN as it simplifies storage management.
June 2003
HP’s entry-level system for the realm of enterprise servers is dubbed the ProLiant ML350 G3 —for 3rd generation. OpenBench Labs tested the 5U rack-mount version of the HP ML350 G3, configured with two 2.4GHz Intel Xeon processors. With all that CPU fire power, we populated the server’s hot-swap drive cage with Maxtor’s fastest disk drives, Maxtor Atlas 15K Ultra320s, for a thorough shakedown.
March 2003
Pitting openBench Labs benchmark measurements against HP’s specs, we learn more about track density and tape speed underlying the HP StorageWorks Ultrium 460. Check out the numbers and real-world performance implications, as we put HP’s new darling of the superdrive group through the paces.
February 2003
Franco Vitaliano proves you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to know how to get ‘surround’ with a little stereo common sense and a lot of Theater Grand III. He walks you through his environmental immersion experience, as he applies a number of sound tricks borrowed from the high-end audio trade.

If you are serious about performance, Intel Xeon CPUs and PCI-X peripheral slots are de rigueur for servers, but not sufficient! Linux kernel support for Xeon CPUs began with the 2.4.17 kernel, but openBench Labs tests of a dual Xeon server reveal that running applications without a little help from Intel may prove more than a little disappointing.

Mix 2 parts Hyper-Threading with 1 part PCI-X and you have an I/O accelerant that delivers 3,400 IOPS and 266MB of data per second! Better yet, these test results are for an Adaptec Ultra320 SCSI controller and 4 Maxtor Atlas IV drives in a 1 U server.

On the heels of SuSE’s release of their landmark version 8.0, SuSE delivers the release of version 8.1, which is Linux Standard Base (LSB) compliant, introduces GNOME 2 on the desktop, and brings true easy-to-configure wireless networking to Linux. If the ease of configuration is stunning, then performance differences between Samba and NFS are a shocker.

It may look like a PDA on steroids, but Terapin's Pocket Data Storage device is a powerful personal NAS/FTP/email appliance running Linux with interesting implications for vertical IT applications.

ServeLinux Networks comes at the appliance market from an interesting perspective. They've been building appliance-like 1U and 2U turnkey rackmount web servers for ISPs. Their newest product looks more like a model of the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao and targets the SOHO and small business market utilizing a great deal of the software technology originally designed for web-server farms.

When openBench Labs first examined SuSE eMail Server II just one year ago, we knew it was worth pitching for small- to medium-sized enterprises looking for an easy bang for a modest buck. This week, we say forget about relegating this email server to simple beginnings. The new release, SuSE Email Server 3.1, sends off a clear message: Groupware for larger user sites.

Time to free all Microserfs imprisoned by their desktop productivity suites? Everyone knows that answer, but the more difficult one for the CIO is what to free them with. For that answer, openBench Labs mixes SuSE 8.0 with Ximian's Evolution and Sun's StarOffice 6.0 to turn conventional desktop wisdom on its ear. This configuration is now bundled as SuSE Office Pro.

Can parallel ATA really find a home in a server? 3ware has thought so for some time. This week, openBench Labs tests their Escalade 7500-8 PCI adapter using RAID Level 5 and 10 arrays with ReiserFS- and XFS- formatted volumes and proves that cost savings is not a polite euphemism for performance tradeoff.

With the launch of the SDLT 320 and the purchase of Benchmark Storage Innovations, Quantum extends its DLT offerings for both the enterprise and the small office. On the high end, the new SDLT 320 uses a higher bit density and faster tape speed to move past LTO in capacity and speed. Meanwhile, the Benchmark ValuSmart 640 Blade puts a DLT1carousel in a 2U auto-loader that costs less than most stand-alone drives.

SOHO backup is about to get supersized on an enterprise scale as new advancements in LTO technology open a golden opportunity to the small business masses. OpenBench Labs tests a super fast tape drive bundled with serious backup software that can stream data at 20MB/sec on to a cartridge that holds a good 150GB of compressed data for less than $4,500.

Under examination is a RAID appliance that signifies a cost-conscious asdoption of ATA technology as an alternative to SCSI RAID . With the focus on ATA-based RAID appliances, we ask the question that corporate technology planners need to explore: How well do these really fit as I/O devices for file servers or high-end workstations?

Just 18 months and a major kernel release ago, the idea of using Linux in a SAN was considered a bit odd, if not downright batty. Oh how times have changed. In openBench Labs’ latest foray into the SAN pit, the performance of Linux dominates that of its rival from Redmond. What’s more, the turnkey 1Gb SAN we tested is now downright affordable.

OpenBench Labs tests the latest release of Intel’s C/C++ compiler (version 6) for Linux. With gcc 3.0.4 as a reference standard, the powerhouse team of SuSE 8.0 and Intel 6.0 leaves Win2000 and Visual Studio .Net in disarray. What’s more, see how the integration of KAP’s parallelization techniques provides automagical decomposition of single programs across multiple processors in an SMP server.

OpenBench Labs sent the new Intel C Compiler through the performance gates on Linux and Windows and discovered performance results beyond superior. Temperaments were high. “The magnitude of the performance differential in numerically intense applications is such that only the most dramatic sort of improvement in the long-awaited version 3 of the GNU C/C++ compiler will stay the hammer that drives a stake through the fibrillating heart of the aging technology behind the GNU C compiler.”

GUIs! We don’t need no stinkin’ GUIs. That may well be true for the software tools used by systems administrators, but that argument certainly doesn’t hold water when it comes to end-user software. As Linux takes center stage as a server OS, continued future success will require the ability to rapidly develop serious end-user software. To that end, openBench Labs examines a RAD development tool for building Open Motif GUIs.

See what happens when OpenBench Labs, with a newly recompiled CPU benchmark suite, takes Intel’s C++ compiler into Round Two, from laptop to server. We explore performance behaviors and end results using HP’s 1U Tualatin-powered Netserver. Read about the significant differences in performance that were exposed by our new benchmark executables on the Netserver.

Long before that little upstart arrived on the scene, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote Der Zauberlehrling, a poem about a sorcerer’s apprentice. Now OpenBench Labs is reeling with resonance, in looking at what the Redmond people have brewed and remembering the hapless student of the black arts. Join us in assessing Windows XP Pro and SuSE Linux 7.3, as we run the various OpenBench Labs benchmark programs on each OS to gage performance and the potential for TCO chaos.

How does an external RAID Appliance stack up against an internal RAID controller? OpenBench Labs looks at that issue and then turns to the question of how well the new journaling file systems (ReiserFS, JFS, and ext3FS) perform in an I/O infrastructure free of bottlenecks.

The value proposition is clear: For less than $70 on Windows and even less on Linux, IBM with WebSphere Homepage Builder is serving up a complete web development suite to the point of including video editing tools. But can a port with Wine support the complexity of such a menu? At openBench Labs it’s Lights, Camera, Action!

Small, specialized servers will save your company thousands—no, wait, hundreds of thousands…oh, really? OpenBench Labs has found news releases promising new paradigms and CIO-customized swords for slaying TCO dragons often turn to white noise when translated into drives, chassis, and benchmarks. Start evaluating the real economics of blades.

Find out what you need to know about the beneficent chains that bind in network management. Analyst Chris Amaru works out on the SuSE Linux Firewall on CD, from configuring the base parameters for the system to making reverse proxies work. Along the way, OpenBench Labs discovers what is highly useful and what beats a sharp stick in the eye, but not much in between.

To accessorize your insights on B2B web designs, check out the OpenBench Labs review of Forte for Java Enterprise Edition. Working with HP Netserver and SuSE Linux 7.3, our Labs analyst discovers how easy albeit frustrating it can be to build and deploy a Java-based web service.

Is frictionless integration of Open Source servers with Windows 2000 possible? See what happens when Procom Technology reaches quirk-for-quirk compatibility between BSD and Windows 2000 servers. OpenBench Labs benchmarks the 5U Procom NetFORCE 1700, a file server powered by a BSD-based network operating system and relays the surprises that followed.

In this week’s explorations of the design principles of disk spindle motors, OpenBench Labs shows these principles bear significant importance to the reliability of laptop drives. Under examination is the Hitachi DK23DA-40F 2.5-inch disk drive.

ASL's Marquis K120 workstation sports two AMD 1.2GHz Athlon CPUs, while the Linux 2.4smp kernel provides the foundation for a blazingly fast and highly scalable workstation.

As client/server, DBMS-based, backup programs rapidly increase in complexity, their chances of running in an HA cluster decrease just as fast. Overland Data's solution: configure a modular SuperDLT tape library, which behaves like a 'cluster'.

Whether we are simply talking about best practices in device redundancy or have escalated the construct of high availability all the way up to HA-clusters, one of the critical components is always a high-availability storage system. Among storage components, foremost in importance is indisputably the RAID controller, which dictates overall functionality and plays no small role in system performance. Powered by a StrongARM RISC CPU clocked at 233 MHz., CMD's Titan controllers provides transparent fail-over and fail-back for any host.