Review: Netgear's ReadyData makes a splash with flash
Netgear's better, faster rack-mount NAS and iSCSI SAN makes the case for enterprise workloads with read and write caching and unlimited snapshots
Hardware and software options
Available disk types include SATA (7,200 rpm), near-line SAS (10,000 rpm), SAS (15,000 rpm), and SSD. You can also attach up to two 4U disk enclosures to scale out to 180TB of storage. Individual disk volumes can be configured in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, or 10. Any number of available disks can be configured in different RAID settings, so you could have both a RAID 1 volume (mirrored) and a RAID 5 volume (striped with parity) in the same box.
Creating new SMB or CIFS shares includes the option to enable compression and deduplication. These two features work in tandem to reduce the footprint of the files stored on individual volumes. While this might not be a good idea for a database volume, it would make sense for backups or users' files. Be aware that the deduplication feature works outside the purview of any client operating system. You wouldn't want to do something like enable the Windows Server 2012 deduplication feature at the same time.
Thin provisioning allows you to create a volume that appears to be larger than it really is. It's a feature designed to allow you to add physical capacity only when you actually need it, without having to resize volumes or file systems. Microsoft supports this type of volume creation with Windows Server 2012. The ReadyData 5200 provides its own thin-provisioning capability for iSCSI volumes, making it possible to provision an iSCSI volume that presents itself as a particular size without the requirement to immediately allocate the full amount of physical disk space.
To test performance, I ran Iometer on an HP BL660c blade server with four Intel E5-4610 CPUs and 64GB of memory. I used the same Iometer configuration file (OpenPerformanceTest32.icf available at vmktree.org) as in my tests of the ReadyNAS 4220 and its competitors. This test configuration uses four different scenarios to measure sequential I/O and random read/write performance.
Although the ReadyData 5200 unit was equipped with a dual-port 10GbE NIC, I tested using a single 1GbE port in order to draw comparisons with the ReadyNAS 4220. The charts below show the results from the four tests against an SMB share and an iSCSI LUN on the ReadyData. The results for the ReadyNAS reflect the same four tests against an SMB share.
The numbers show iSCSI to be the faster interface for the ReadyData. Both volumes were created from the same RAID set, so the disk access should be about the same. Keep in mind this is the SMB 2.0 protocol as opposed to the new Microsoft SMB 3.0 protocol. Comparing the ReadyData and ReadyNAS results shows the obvious advantage of SSD caching.
The flash caches give the ReadyData significant latency and random access advantages over its ReadyNAS sibling. With flexibility to adjust the flash sizes and distribution to meet specific application needs, you can tailor the ReadyData device to just about any workload. Add to that the ability to take unlimited snapshots and roll back to any instant in time, and the ReadyData will be much more appealing to a small or medium-size enterprise looking for a general-purpose storage system.
Netgear prices the ReadyData based on the types and numbers of drives in the system. My review unit as tested would cost $18,850 at full retail, but can be had for considerably less through any number of different distributors. If you choose to purchase drives separately, the ReadyData can be had sans drives for less than $6,000.
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