Open-E Makes Creating Storage Servers Easier
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.