EqualLogic's iSCSI SAN hits storage management high notes
PS3800XV is easy to configure, blazingly fast, and manages dissimilar arrays with aplombFollow @pvenezia
It seems that every time I configure an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN array in the company of folks who’ve never seen the process, they ask the same question: Really? You’re already done? The answer, always, is Yes.
The simplicity of EqualLogic’s management platform extends from the CLI to the GUI interface, and is also exhibited physically with the simple chassis and controller design. Form certainly follows function, but the PS3800XV isn’t lacking in either. Suffice it to say, I really like this array.
[ EqualLogic's PS3800XV was selected for an InfoWorld Technology of the Year award. See the slideshow for all winners in the storage category. ]
Scalability and performance
There are many ways to build and scale an iSCSI SAN, but the general rule is that as you add capacity, you also add bandwidth. With EqualLogic, this is part and parcel of the overall solution: You can’t add capacity without adding bandwidth.
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This setup performed perfectly in the lab with a selection of iSCSI software initiators. Theoretical throughput is in the 300MBps range; in practice, I was able to get close to 300MBps with three clients, each pushing 100MBps reads from the array. Even more interesting is the fact that I was able consistently to reach 100MBps throughput on CIFS filesharing tests using an HP DL360 as a fileserver with an iSCSI LUN (logical unit number) mounted via the Microsoft iSCSI software initiator, and 12 simulated clients running from nbench. That’s better performance than many native CIFS filers are able to produce. In fact, it’s better than most fileservers writing to local disk.
Part of the reason for the PS3800XV’s high performance is its SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives. My evaluation unit came with 16 147GB Maxtor 15K RPM SAS drives, providing a raw capacity of 2.3TB (usable capacity is 1.53TB with RAID50). The rest of the high performance comes from the enormous 2GB battery-backed cache integrated into each controller.
These batteries are designed to provide power to the cache for more than 72 hours with a full charge, so worries about lost writes are minimal. Also, with RAM caching of this size, it’s nearly impossible to eclipse the cache space during normal operations. The end result is screaming throughput.