The Enterprise Storage Group (ESG) Monday announced the official launch of its ESG Lab, just in time for this week's Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, Florida. The new service is designed to provide objective, hands-on evaluations of storage products and technologies.
"End-user customers currently get most of their information from the big storage vendors. We launched ESG Lab to give end users a credible and objective perspective on storage solutions by testing them ourselves," states Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst of ESG. "ESG Lab does hands-on testing to validate storage vendors' claims with one goal in mind — giving end-user customers an objective, credible, third-party analysis of storage products so they can make better buying decisions faster."
ESG Lab tests storage products as a customer would, starting with installation, drilling into the management tools and features, examining the advanced functionality, measuring performance and scalability, and testing hardware reliability. In performing objective reviews of products, the lab also hopes to benefit vendors by helping them discover and address the technologies that matter today and in the future.
"ESG Lab doesn't test technology for technology's sake," says Brian Garrett, Technical Director of ESG Lab. "We validate technologies and explain why products and features may or may not be important and how they will best benefit IT professionals."
Given the difficulty of discerning between product reality and the marketing-inflated claims of vendors, the lab certainly has the potential to be an overwhelming success with storage end-user customers.
"ESG Lab is serving an important need in the market," affirms Robert Messier, Director of Infrastructure for the CareGroup, a Boston-based healthcare company. "Until now, most of our information has been provided by the storage vendors, and they have a subjective view. We consider ESG Lab to be objective experts that help to validate our strategies and decisions.
"Every vendor is starting to sound the same," vents Troy Margelofsky, Storage Manager for Land's End. "They all make the same claims, and it's difficult to validate those claims in real world scenarios. ESG Lab knows what matters, and if they have been through a product, we know it will save us time."
"ESG Lab speaks like IT, not like vendors," adds Sanjay Mandloi of JP Morgan.
The first lab results are in for three storage vendors, all of which passed with high marks.
SpinServer Aces ESG Evaluation
"SpinServer is an Enterprise NAS product that combines sophisticated software functionality with SpinFS at its core, providing an extremely scalable, high performance, and feature-rich solution," declared the ESG Lab upon completing a comprehensive evaluation of Spinnaker Networks' NAS appliance.
The lab performed a broad battery of evaluation tests on the SpinServer, including the non-disruptive virtual file system movement, scalability, backup, fault tolerance, a review of the SPEC SFS performance testing, and more.
According to the ESG Validation Report, "Spinnaker Networks has accomplished a Herculean task developing a scalable architecture with excellent performance and a suite of features and functions required to compete against the major NAS incumbents. After evaluating SpinServer, analyzing performance data, and interviewing customers, ESG Lab considers this product to be an Enterprise NAS solution."
ESG Lab's key findings and conclusions include SpinServer being well suited for NAS environments that require enormous scalability and also being well suited for both large and mid-range enterprise environments.
"Our experience at Spinnaker was a great example of a storage vendor making claims and ESG Lab validating them," says Duplessie. "Their stuff works as advertised. That's not always the case."
Isilon IQ Deemed a Digital Content Storage Standout
The ESG Lab also put Isilon IQ through exhaustive paces and determined the network storage system delivers NAS-level simplicity with SAN-level performance for digital content environments.
"Isilon IQ is extremely easy to use, and the near linear scalability in performance is impressive," reports Tony Asaro, project manager for ESG Lab. "The test showed that Isilon IQ has excellent management features, with two of the most compelling characteristics being how easy it is to add storage capacity in a single file image and how well the I/O throughput scaled in a pure sequential streaming environment."
For the study, ESG Lab analyzed Isilon IQ's design, rigorously tested the product, and spent time on site with an end-user customer to understand their experiences. Test results showed Isilon IQ to have four unique advantages not found in traditional network storage systems:
- A distributed file system and clustered architecture that enables the creation of a single, easily expandable pool of storage
- Software intelligence that provides the ability to effortlessly and transparently add capacity and performance while maintaining a single file system image
- A design specifically tailored for digital content, enabling storage of many large files, scalability of performance, and very high aggregate throughput from a single volume
- Unmatched ease of installation and management, increasing IT productivity
"Isilon IQ's ability to linearly scale storage capacity and performance addresses the pain points customers have with both traditional NAS and SAN storage systems in digital content environments," states Sujal Patel, Isilon founder and chief technology officer. "We designed Isilon IQ to eliminate the complexities of managing high performance storage systems, which is exactly what ESG Lab has validated. It's no surprise that Isilon has a rapidly growing base of paying customers who are using Isilon IQ to address their exploding growth of digital content."
Magnitude 3D's Ease of SAN Management Validated
The ESG Lab has also published its laboratory validation of XIOtech Corporation's Magnitude 3D. The report found that "Magnitude 3D simplifies core tasks for managing SAN environments, which could result in a significant reduction in indirect management costs, greater user satisfaction, and more efficient operations. If you are in the market for a mid-range storage subsystem, you should evaluate the Magnitude 3D."
ESG Lab ran tests based on hands-on usage of the product in a standard two-way and prototype of a four-way configuration, and augmented the finding with customer interviews to determine how Magnitude 3D performed during installation, online provisioning, remote booting, mirroring services, disaster recovery, and other standard SAN scenarios.
The reviewers validated XIOtech's claim that its clustered storage architecture provides resilience, responsiveness, and scalability, while simplifying the management of storage growth within a SAN environment. The report concluded that Magnitude 3D provides an extremely simple SAN management environment.
Among other highlights, ESG Lab concluded that Magnitude 3D demonstrates ease of management, reliability, and performance; is capable of adding capacity online effortlessly; offers the ability to provide continuous data access when tested with drive failures, port failures, and node failures across a distributed SAN environment; and shows impressive flexibility, reliability, and scalability.
"ESG Lab was impressed with how easy it was to manage the Magnitude 3D, and ease of management always ranks at the highest end of the customer wish list," concludes Duplessie.
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