Rackable iSCSI system stacks up
S3118-iSCSI box makes for a smooth and simple SAN or a Windows or Linux storage server
If you've ever built an IP SAN, you know that configuring iSCSI can sometimes be problematic. Getting the necessary iSCSI credential, portal, and node settings, permissions for servers, and security settings to work on both ends isn't always easy or well documented. I found the Wasabi software did an excellent job, however -- everything worked the first time, both with Windows and Linux servers. The documentation is clear and concise, leading even an inexperienced user through the necessary steps to add storage to either a Windows or Linux server.
An iSCSI portal functions as the network that accesses the system. Wasabi offers excellent control over the configuration while providing a basic setup that will suffice for most users. The node settings determine the amount of disk space to be made available to a particular server. After you have set these, however, they can't be changed -- you can't expand the size of a node attached to a server dynamically. Wasabi supports iSNS (Internet Storage Name Service), an auto-discovery protocol for iSCSI, and it worked well.
What it is
You don't get many bells and whistles in the Wasabi software. You can create disk sets and volumes, set the RAID level to 1, 5, or 10, and make the volumes available to your servers. Volume spanning is supported, so if you want to make all 16 drives into one large volume, it can be done. But additional functions such as replication, virtualization, or dynamic expansion of volumes would require additional, third-party software.
What the S3118 does, it does well. It sustained server connections on two separate Gigabit Ethernet ports with transfer rates of 91MBps, which is about as good as you're going to get from iSCSI over Gigabit Ethernet.
The S3118-iSCSI is a basic iSCSI system that provides good performance, ease-of-use, and great value. The flexibility of converting the appliance to a server simply by installing an OS makes this system even more attractive. If you're looking for sophisticated storage management features, you won't get them here, but at less than $20,000 for a 7TB system, you shouldn't expect extras. Rackable Systems should be on the short list for anyone looking for a simple way to add storage to existing servers.
Read more about storage in InfoWorld's Storage Channel.