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

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

We got our hands on one of Thecus' eight-bay N8800PRO storage appliances for the purpose of taking Open-E's Data Storage Software V6 out for a test drive. Read on as we set up, manage, and benchmark this marriage of storage-oriented hardware and software.

Small and medium businesses, government offices, health care providers, and research institutions generate lots of data every single day. All of that information needs to be archived and protected. As a case in point, the German Electron Synchrotron, DESY, in Hamburg, generates 100 TB of raw data per experiment, and a typical health care provider can generates hundreds of gigabytes per month in patient records.

Beyond simply storing data, managing it cost-effectively is critical, as is delivering the information to users and applications where and when they need it. Business-class storage devices are designed to do that over a number of different interfaces. Direct-attached and network-attached are two of the most popular, though storage area networks built on Fibre Channel or iSCSI technology are popular as well.

Even as enterprise-grade technology increasingly finds its way into SMB environments, NAS remains a moderate-performance, affordable technology for small- and medium-sized businesses. Flexible protocol support and provisions for backup technologies like data replication and synchronization are particularly attractive.

There are plenty of network-attached appliances available. However, the selection thins out considerably you filter by reliability, performance, enterprise support, and reasonable cost. Thecus sent over its N8800PRO to demonstrate that a storage server with redundant power supplies, a multi-core host processor, and performance-oriented networking can be had for about $1600 without hard drives. Add eight of your own 2 TB nearline SATA disks and the unit's cost hovers around $3600.

But an accessible price tag isn't the only interesting aspect of this NAS device. You can also install Open-E's Data Storage Software V6 on it, which expands its feature set beyond what Thecus' own firmware offers. Some of Open-E DSS 6.0's capabilities include iSCSI, CIFS, and Fibre Channel support. Installing the third-party firmware is relatively easy from a flash drive or CD. As the installation process progresses, device drives (needed for the storage and Ethernet controllers) are automatically configured.

In the pages that follow, we'll discuss how Open-E DSS 6.0 and Thecus' N8800OPRO interact, with an emphasis on the third-party operating environment. There are integrators who offer package deals, pre-installing Open-E DSS 6.0 on the Thecus appliance. The cost of that combination often depends on the features you enable and the storage array installed.

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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!