Siafu Software Solves Equatek's Growing Pains - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Siafu Software Solves Equatek's Growing Pains

Equatek Interactive knows firsthand what Hifn saw in Siafu Software.

Siafu, which was acquired this week by Hifn, made Equatek a happy customer more than six months ago.

Equatek had developed an application and Web hosting development environment that it offers to small and large business customers as well as government clients. A growing company that boasts high-availability solutions, Equatek found it needed to upgrade its enterprise storage solution in order to deliver on its promises. It turned to Siafu for the answer.

Equatek's recently developed CABWorx product — which allows manufacturers, merchants and distributors to Web-enable catalogs with their e-commerce storefronts — forced the company to implement the Siafu Swarm 3100 Series High Availability (HA) iSCSI SAN.

"We realized that our existing storage solution wasn't going do what we needed it to do going forward," said David Madison, president of Pittsford, N.Y.-based Equatek.

The five-year old company had in place a Dell/EMC Clariion Fibre Channel system with 300GB storage.

The older system, which was located in the company's data center, was "hiccupping," and not providing the high availability the company demanded, according to Edward Hanchett, executive vice president at Equatek and company co-owner with Madison.

At the time, Equatek was hosting several hundred Web sites and some applications. It also provided e-mail services to a Rochester, N.Y.-based ISP. "Our customers have high expectations for system availability," said Hanchett. "Additionally, our CABWorx application is data-intensive and requires the assurance of a high availability solution."

Additionally, there were technical reasons for seeking out a new storage solution. When the company upgraded from Windows 2000 to Windows 2003, the new OS didn't work well with Equatek's Dell/Clarion storage.

So last October, the company began to explore options for a new enterprise-class storage environment.

Looking Ahead

Looking to expand its business, Equatek needed a storage infrastructure platform that could grow with the company; a technology foundation that would be supported and maintained by the vendor going forward; offered high availability, fault tolerance and high performance; and was easy to manage.

"The Fibre Channel arrays that we had were difficult to work with and that also made it difficult to train engineers for system maintenance," said Hanchett.

The company's system administrator was the first to get the ball rolling when it came to exploring storage solution options. "In his previous job, he helped implement a high-availability storage product," said Hanchett.

Piggy-backing on the admin's experience, and with the help of local channel partner Advistor, Equatek explored storage solutions from a handful of vendors, among them EqualLogic, Nexsan, EMC and Siafu.

According to Madison, Advistor not only advised on products, but helped Equatek decide on a product based on the company's current and future needs. "We were able to identify the technology platform that we needed and then hone in on vendors," he said.

Siafu became the main object of Equatek's search. According to Hanchett, the company weighed Fibre Channel technology against iSCSI and determined that an iSCSI platform would best support what the company needed to accomplish.

Cost was also a key factor. "Siafu's solution was priced one-third to one-half less than the nearest three competitors we explored," said Hanchett. In determining cost, the company took into account both acquisition cost and ongoing ownership costs, which still put Siafu ahead of the pack.

In With the New

With the help of Advistor, Equatek purchased the Siafu Swarm 3100 Series (HA) iSCSI IP SAN configured with three terabytes of storage.

According to Siafu, the Swarm series of IP storage appliances brings the benefits of SAN to small and medium-size businesses who opt to move away from direct-attached storage (DAS) or are not prepared to absorb the cost and complexity of traditional Fibre Channel SAN, as was the case for Equatek.

Product features, such as failover for continuous data access, high availability, unlimited storage clusters for capacity expansion, integration with Microsoft operating environments, high performance, ease of management and cost, all satisfied Equatek's solution criteria, according to the company's co-owners.

Over the course of a couple of days last December, with the help of Advistor and company representatives from Siafu, the Swarm storage solution was installed.

"We're confident that the solution is doing what it's supposed to do," said Hanchett. Web-based system management is easy and intuitive, he added.

Since the installation, the company experienced one glitch. A piece of firmware from Western Digital failed and caused a system crash that lasted about seven hours. "Siafu was great. They helped us get back up and running, sticking with us until the issue was resolved," said Hanchett.

Equatek plans on ramping up its business, including CABWorx. Some applications remain on the old system but will be moved shortly to the Siafu storage platform.

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