Dell PowerVault MD3000i

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Dell PowerVault MD3000i

Pros

  • The array keeps cumulative statistics of the traffic on each iSCSI port which helps spotting a persistent load unbalance; 1GB of mirrored, battery protected cache

Cons

  • Doesn't have load-monitoring applets

Bottom Line

The MD3000i is an iSCSI array that promises more deployment flexibility and easier sharing across multiple servers than the MD3000, its direct-attached sibling. Unfortunately, SATA drives are not yet available in the MD3000i, severely limiting the maximum capacity of the enclosure and driving up the cost of expansion. Nevertheless, the MD3000i's good management and reliability features and its competitive price will make it an appealing choice when Dell unleashes the SATA options next year.

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Dell has added a new iSCSI storage array to its portfolio: the PowerVault MD3000i -- a fully redundant enclosure that can pack dual-power supplies, dual-RAID controllers and 15 SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives in 2U. Two expansion modules can bring the overall capacity to 45 drives, which, by early next year should also include SATA drives. At rollout, the MD3000i supports SAS drives only.

If the name of the array sounds familiar, it's because this is the iSCSI version of a modular enclosure with SAS connectivity by the same name: the MD3000. As a sweeping generalisation, think of the MD3000i as the same hardware with different controllers.

Dell appropriately positions the MD3000i as a step up from the SATA-only AX150/i and as a more affordable option than the entry-level Clariion models. Each controller of the unit carries dual-Gigabit Ethernet and a separate management port, which in full configuration offers the choice between the combined transfer rate of four iSCSI connections and the resilience of active fail-over.

For our evaluation we received an MD3000i with two controllers and 15 73GB, 15K RPM SAS drives. My test unit also had Disk Copy and Snapshots, two optional features that make it possible to take as many as 128 snapshots and make 255 system-wide disk copies.

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