OnStor Device Consolidates Storage

 
 
By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-03-07
 
 
 

OnStor Device Consolidates Storage


OnStor Inc.s OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway is a powerful appliance that lets IT managers grant their clients and servers file share access to SAN resources. In eWEEK Labs tests, we were impressed with the gateways extensive clustering capabilities and level of scalability. We believe this enterprise-class network-attached storage solution would be suitable for storage chores in almost any large enterprise.



Click here to read the full review of the 2260 NAS Gateway.

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OnStor Inc.s OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway is a powerful appliance that lets IT managers grant their clients and servers file share access to SAN resources. In eWEEK Labs tests, we were impressed with the gateways extensive clustering capabilities and level of scalability. We believe this enterprise-class network-attached storage solution would be suitable for storage chores in almost any large enterprise.

The high-performance OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway, which shipped in January, costs $55,500 for a single gateway.

The unit we tested included four Gigabit Ethernet ports (for NAS access) and two 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports to connect to Fibre Channel storage units. Two other Gigabit Ethernet ports are included for management and to provide a cluster heartbeat between units.

OnStor also sells lower-end NAS Gateway appliances, starting at $20,000, that have less memory and fewer ports. The OnStor 2200 has 2GB of ECC (error-correcting code) memory; and the OnStor 2400 includes 4GB of cache.

As with competing NAS gateways, such as Network Appliance Inc.s gFiler, the OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway sits between Fibre Channel storage units and the IP network.

The OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway takes control of LUNs (logical unit numbers) on the Fibre Channel SAN (storage area network) and creates shared volumes for them. The appliance then enables sharing via a CIFS (Common Internet File System) and NFS (Network File System).

A single OnStor 2260 can create and host as many as 255 virtual servers, which allows IT managers to maintain security integrity, even though the underlying storage is shared at the SAN level.

The gateways ability to spawn multiple virtual servers lets IT managers consolidate NAS servers. Instead of juggling multiple NAS units, each with its own attached storage, IT managers can purchase a single storage infrastructure and use the virtual servers to share the storage resources. This consolidation is far easier to maintain and will greatly increase storage use—shared resources can do a better storage job with fewer boxes.

In addition, the OnStor 2260s dynamic volume management, which automatically expands volumes when they are close to full capacity, should make daily storage management easier.

To read more about new products that are teaching NAS gateways and network file servers new tricks to maximize storage capacity, click here.

A clustered pair of OnStor 2260 NAS Gateways can support as many as 400 file systems, and each file system can scale to 100TB in size.

Unlike other gateway systems, including gFiler, the OnStor 2260 can support heterogeneous storage units—back-end storage devices dont have to be identical. In the case of gFiler, SAN storage units cannot be mixed and matched. This is a serious limitation, one that we hope Network Appliance addresses in the near future. Because SAN units cannot be mixed, companies must purchase a separate gFiler for each SAN storage family.

Next page: No RAID for storage.

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OnStors 2200 Series appliances are compatible with storage hardware from major storage vendors including EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., IBM and Storage Technology Corp. In tests, we configured a clustered pair of OnStor 2260 NAS Gateways with a Nexsan Technologies Inc. Fibre Channel storage unit.

The OnStor 2260 does not provide RAID for storage. Instead, it leverages RAID that is already implemented on the storage systems. This makes the OnStor NAS Gateway approach a bad fit for IT managers using low-end JBODs (just a bunch of disks).

However, this capability is compelling for the vast majority of storage systems that already have high-performance RAID controllers built into them.

Utilizing installed RAID is also a welcome strategy for companies that already have a variety of storage units in their data centers, whether because of departmental differences or due to corporate acquisitions.

Configuration was fairly easy in tests, and we had NFS and CIFS shares up in a matter of minutes. OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway appliances do not have their own directory services, so IT managers must link the appliances to Active Directory servers (for CIFS) or NIS (Network Information System) servers (for NFS) to handle user accounts and access rights.

Having no directory services might be a deterrent to smaller sites, but for larger organizations, it makes more sense from a management and security point of view to have centralized directory servers handling authentication information.

OnStors file service support lets NFS and Windows clients share files—a crucial feature for IT shops that have to support both protocols. The OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway honors the rules under which files are written, regardless of where files originate.

For example, if an administrator gives full access on the CIFS side, access restrictions on the NFS side are not affected.

The OnStor 2260 NAS Gateways snapshot capabilities let IT managers quickly roll back volumes when problems arise. Snapshots can be scheduled or can be run on demand, and each file system can support as many as 48 snapshots.

File auditing is another useful management feature on the OnStor 2260; it allows IT managers to track file changes via an audit log. The file-auditing feature can be configured to look for specific events, such as file ownership changes or file restore operations.

Like the other models in the 2200 Series, the OnStor 2260 NAS Gateway has no moving parts (no hard drives), which makes it extremely reliable on the hardware level. The appliances have specialized processors that handle file services, IP and storage communications.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

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