Infortrend Pushes Storage Envelope - Page 2

Infortrend Technologys EonStor S12F-R1420 is a sign of storage things to come, boasting cutting-edge technologies in the form of SAS and 4G-bps Fibre Channel. Given the arrays relatively low price and backward compatibility, its a good bet for future-proofing SAN implementations.

The EonStor S12F-R1420 is the first serial-attached SCSI array to make an appearance in our lab—and probably the first available anywhere. The system is affordably priced at $12,810, given its high-end capabilities, but its no-frills from there. For example, the array does not provide data protection features such as snapshots and replication.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read how IBM is pushing 4G-bps storage.

But, given its relatively low entry price, we werent too disappointed that the EonStor array didnt offer these features. Indeed, for companies on a tight budget, it may be preferable to get a solid, bare-bones system like this to meet an immediate storage need.

Depending on the drives used, the EonStor S12F-R1420 should provide more than adequate performance and reliability as a primary storage device for application servers or as an inexpensive long-term data repository for applications such as e-mail archives.

Products with 4G-bps Fibre Channel are still fairly rare. Indeed, we were not able to test the Infortrend array with 4G-bps Fibre Channel switches or HBAs (host bus adapters), but the array functioned well with the QLogic 2G-bps Fibre Channel HBAs we had loaded onto the Dell PowerEdge 6400 server with which we tested. Backward compatibility is an important feature for 4G-bps Fibre Channel products, allowing IT managers to add them to older SAN (storage area network) infrastructures without interoperability headaches.

At this point, 4G-bps Fibre Channel is overkill for most SMBs (small and midsize businesses), although it will certainly be appropriate for companies dealing with lots of audio and video files. For larger businesses, 4G-bps Fibre Channel will be useful for backup networks and applications that need to move large data stores quickly around the SAN. And for the price, the EonStor S12F-R1420 is well worth the room for growth it affords.

The unique advantage of SAS arrays—especially for SMBs—is their ability to mix SAS hard drives with inexpensive SATA (Serial ATA) drives within the same enclosure. This allows IT managers to tier storage within a single array instead of having to purchase a separate chassis for SATA disks.

The 2U (3.5-inch) EonStor S12F-R1420 eWEEK Labs tested came with six Fujitsu SAS drives and six SATA drives from Hitachi. The array was equipped with 12 hard drives and twin 4G-bps controllers for connecting to our hosts.

Each controller came with 512MB of cache (up to 2GB can be purchased) and dual 4G-bps ports for added redundancy. Each controller also had a multilane SAS port to connect additional disk shelves to the EonStor S12F-R1420 array. Using both multilane SAS expansion ports, the EonStor S12F-R1420 can expand up to 64 drives.

Running in a RAID 6 configuration to provide two-disk parity (where two hard drives can die and the array will keep running), our unit provided a little less than 1TB of usable space.

Infortrends RAIDWatch management utility is used to manage and configure the array. We found RAIDWatch fairly straightforward to use. For example, it allowed us to quickly create logical volumes and assign them to servers.

In addition, using the RAIDWatch GUI, we could quickly see performance statistics and check on the health of the various components in the EonStor S12F-R1420 .

The firmware in the EonStor S12F-R1420 has some nice features for monitoring and protecting the array. For example, if the temperature of the array were to rise to dangerous levels, the firmware would detect the event and safely shut down the unit.

The EonStor S12F-R1420 has redundant, hot-swappable power supplies for added reliability. Hot-swappable battery units are an option, and one that we strongly recommend because it protects against data corruption in the event of a power outage.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.