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iSCSI The Open-E Way

Open-E iSCSI Enterprise 1.51 In Detail

Maybe you still remember the NAS modules that Open-E has been offering since the beginning of 2004. These are specialized Linux systems stored on a flash memory module that is attached to the system via UltraATA. After plugging the Open-E NAS module into a bootable UltraATA port, the system will boot the highly customized operating system that turns the host system into a powerful and flexible NAS server. The hardware configuration depends on your requirements and supports anything from a single hard drive up to multiple RAID controllers (Enterprise edition only). Anything else can be configured using a Web browser.

It's not hard to guess that Open-E took its system core and made some modifications. Open-E iSCSI is installed the same way and works on an equally large amount of host systems, but turns the host system into an iSCSI target rather than a NAS server. One huge advantage of Open-E's solution is that it comes with its own system 'drive' and operating system. You won't have to buy either one of these or can use existing resources for another purpose.

The beautiful thing about this solution is that the customer can add new features to the iSCSI storage system (or the NAS server) by simply updating the Open-E software as new versions become available. Yet, installing updates did not work as smoothly as we expected: After finishing the product registration (which is required), we were not able to run the update on a Gigabyte GA-955X Royal motherboard. The update program was unable to unpack the kernel. We had to switch to a MSI K8N Diamond Plus before we could successfully install the update.

However, since most users would not run a high-end storage system on a consumer type motherboard, we decided do use an Asus MT4, which is a Socket 775 server type motherboard with PCI-X slots, integrated graphics and twin Gigabit Ethernet ports. We picked AMCC's 9550SX SATA II RAID controller (it is on Open-E's compatibility list) and decided to set up a RAID 0 consisting of four Seagate NL35 drives (400 GB each). Though RAID 0 certainly is not what an administrator would choose, we figured that it might be the best way to prevent a storage subsystem bottleneck.

You have to enter the default password after booting the system. Open-E supports English and German since the company is based in Germany. Open-E iSCSI can be accessed from anywhere in the network via secured http using your Web browser.