Meeting the ever-growing need for storage is a problem that all IT organizations face. Larger organizations typically opt for Fibre Channel SAN–based solutions, but these are often too costly and too complex for small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). The HP StorageWorks 400 All-in-One Storage System (AiO400) is designed to fill the storage needs of SMBs. It can be used for file serving, print serving, Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft SQL Server storage, custom application storage, or backup and data protection. It provides iSCSI SAN support as well as integrated NAS support.
The AiO400 is a 1U rackmounted appliance that comes preloaded with Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, Standard Edition. The unit I tested was equipped with four 250GB Serial ATA (SATA) drives, 1GB of RAM (with support for a maximum of 4GB of RAM), and a 3.0GHz dual-core Intel Pentium D processor. The unit also came with a slimline 8x DVD+RW, two front USB ports, two rear USB ports, one rear serial port, two 10/100/1000GB Network Controller Interfaces, one VGA port, and PS/2-style keyboard and mouse ports. Internally, the AiO400 can be expanded through use of either the low-profile, half-length PCI Extended (PCI-X) slot or the full-height, full-length PCI-X slot. For added disk storage, the unit can also attach to an external HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array 20 storage device.
Getting the unit up and running was a snap. After installing the unit in the rack and plugging in the power, I connected one of the Ethernet ports to my standard LAN infrastructure; I connected the other Ethernet port to a dedicated iSCSI LAN, which helps to ensure adequate bandwidth for other iSCSI servers that utilize the AiO400. You can manage the system by using either a remote browser or the AiO400's ports for external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I opted to use the direct-attach method.
When I turned the unit on, it went through a 10-minute installation, after which the system logon prompt was displayed. The Rapid Startup Wizard allowed me to set the date and time, administrative password, network configuration, and server name as well as alerts and SNMP information. The system then rebooted and was ready to run. A storage wizard lets you easily set up the type of storage the appliance will be used for. Storage options include creating shared folders, hosting an Exchange storage group, hosting a SQL Server database, or creating user-defined application storage. The wizard also lets you schedule data migrations from existing locations to the AiO400. Before you can schedule migrations, you must install the All In-One Storage Manager agent from the setup CD-ROM onto the target servers. The unit's Storage Server interface in combination with the setup and storage wizards makes the unit very easy to manage.
The AiO400's file-serving capabilities include both Common Internet File System (CIFS) and NFS support. The appliance includes iSCSI initiator support for Windows, Linux, BSD, AIX, and Sun Microsystems Solaris. HP's sizing recommendation notes that the unit can support as many as 200 Exchange mailboxes. For data protection, the storage server supports as many as 256 snapshots per volume. The included HP StorageWorks Data Protector Express software enables data to be backed up and recovered from tape, virtual tape, optical storage, or external networked disk. The unit also supports setting up Distributed File System Replication (DFSR) to a second AiO400 or to the next bigger model, the HP StorageWorks 600 All-in-One Storage System.
The AiO400 is a great storage solution for SMBs looking for easy-to-manage storage with a reasonable price tag. Its iSCSI options don't require specialized and expensive Fibre Channel equipment. The appliance's setup is simple, and the included setup and storage wizards bring the task of configuration within the reach of the heavily burdened SMB administrator.