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Open-E Makes Creating Storage Servers Easier

Open-E's DSS V6: Storage Software Set Up, Managed, And Benchmarked
By , Marcel Binder

Although we installed Open-E's Data Storage Software V6 on a purpose-built network storage appliance, DSS is really just a plug-and-play solution able to turn any system into a NAS server with iSCSI functionality. The fact that it's not a full-fledged operating system simplifies the initial setup and ongoing administration. No, you won't find print server functionality or iTunes server support, but that's intentional. More of an enterprise focus means you see additions like InfiniBand and Fibre Channel SAN support instead.

While the scope of DSS V6 seems limited compared to some of the consumer-oriented storage devices currently available, the operating environment has plenty of functionality for the applications it most effectively addresses. DSS appeals to business users with features like replication and fail-over, snapshots, and WORM support for archiving of business data. It can even be used to satisfy high-availability, mission-critical requirements. Because it supports Windows domains as well as NIS and LDAP domains, businesses can seamlessly integrate DSS into their existing IT infrastructure and expand their networked storage. In contrast to the firmware that Thecus ships, Open-E is compatible with VMware ESX, ESXi, and vSphere, as well as Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft Hyper-V, and KVM. The default firmware is only certified with VMware ESX and Citrix.

The fact that Open-E's software is easy to set up and use is a big plus. You can install it directly to a NAS or boot into it from a CD or flash drive. In the case of our NAS device, even a DOM works really well. If your organization standardizes on Open-E's DSS, you can use hardware from many different vendors and run the same software on them, simplifying day-to-day management and tightening security at the same time. Open-E maintains a comprehensive knowledge base and offers several support levels. The company says its operating environment is continuously being enhanced and maintained. Moreover, a comprehensive list of drivers ensures that the sixth generation of Data Storage Software runs on almost any hardware. Our Thecus 8800PRO only encountered one compatibility issue: its LCD seemingly wasn't supported, remaining stuck on a boot message that reads “Self Test in progress..." 

Although the N8800PRO is fairly affordable, there's no doubt that it's intended for business environments with a server room and dedicated rack space. In that context, it, along with Open-E's DSS software, serves as an affordable vector into the world of professional-grade storage solutions. And support for volume groups makes it easy to set up a first NAS appliance or consolidate existing servers to optimize a company's storage infrastructure.

Open-E offers a free version of DSS V6 for IT managers interested in auditioning the software. It's called DSS 6.0 Lite. And although that build lacks iSCSI fail-over, 10 Gb Ethernet support, and is limited to 2 TB of storage, most of the full version's features are there and worth trying out.

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  • 2 Hide
    dgingeri , March 10, 2012 8:03 PM
    I manage about 1200 servers for a software test lab of 9 departments. I work with many different types and generations of hardware. I can tell you from experience, I would absolutely HATE this machine, no matter how fast it performs. No console? Only network communication? Horrible idea. I've been dealing with a few NetApp units that were set up this way. They are a major HEADACHE to manage. If the information on the IP address for this machine were lost, it would be almost impossible to get it to work again. There are admins out there (like my predecessor at my current job) who don't do much for documentation. Small businesses typically don't even have their own admins, so imagine a business switching admin companies because of pricing debates, and a new guy comes in after a drive failure. Basically, he's have to tell them their nice storage system is useless because he has no idea how to get into it to tell it to rebuild to a new drive. They'd have to replace the whole thing.

    For the hardware price, I'd go for a Dell R510. it's about the same price. Then I'd run CentOS 5 or 6 on it. CentOS can do most of what this thing can do with no cost. Or the business could opt for Win 2k8 r2 for $600 more or MS SBS for $800 more and get an easier to manage system that any yahoo proclaiming to be an admin could fix.
  • 0 Hide
    Argo16 , March 11, 2012 10:28 AM
    I totally agree with dgingeri and I would add that most of these products do not meet the quality standards required by business-class storage. They are substantially poorly built oversized SOHO appliances. I doubt that the DESY project and many health care providers are using this kind of storage.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2012 4:04 PM
    Why did not you include 5 drive test together with 8 drive test? How could we know it's Open-E being a TOTAL LOSER or it's just comparing apples (8 drives) to oranges (5 drives)?
  • 0 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:01 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • -1 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:02 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • -1 Hide
    peter_b123 , March 12, 2012 12:02 AM
    I can tell TH that I use Open-E DSS v6 in some production envorionments for my SMB users and I've been very satisfied with its performance, configuration and support. Don't let one bad review fool you. I consistently get over 250MB/s with DSS systems that I've built myself.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2012 11:05 AM
    So what do we get for $1600? No drives? OK... Crappy case with non-working tiny LCD and a 2 year old desktop mobo with ancient CPU? Fine... And a crappy software from near dead Open-E? How lovely! This money can buy you HP or IBM or Dell server with Xeon CPU (probably with 2 socket option), tons of RAM, option for SAS and 8 drive bays. Go install OpenIndiana on it with Napp-it and ZFS thing is going to run circles around Open-E based old boy for just a fraction of cost! Good luck Thecus!!!
  • -1 Hide
    TheKurrgan , March 12, 2012 1:30 PM
    I've never been a fan of these types of devices...
    IOP performance is garbage on SATA drives, and I've seen FreeNAS do a better job than what was portrayed in this article.
    As far as the performance, I'd say it was right in line with low end devices using iSCSI.
    Any iSCSI devices you can pretty much count the 1GB ethernet link as the bottle neck, which puts it around 100 - 125 max. 2x Multi pathing may bring that up to around 190, but good luck achieving usable transfer rates of 250+ as peter claims.
    For the money i'd choose dgingeri's dell in a heart beat.
  • 0 Hide
    cozsmin , March 18, 2012 10:55 AM
    I had once openfiller on a vmware

    Al changes , done to the storage , were done in some xml files of the application

    Needles to say that whenever you did anything in command line , the web apllication would not recognize the result
  • 1 Hide
    Slothy , March 19, 2012 4:25 PM
    While the impression was already there that Tom's IT is just one big advertising centre, it seems there is a slider for Tom's Hardware reviews. The closer you get to IT and away from their core of consumer-grade hardware/software articles, the more the articles become an obvious marketing release and the less useful they become.

    That said, keep up the good work in your core space Tom's!