EqualLogic's iSCSI SAN hits storage management high notes
PS3800XV is easy to configure, blazingly fast, and manages dissimilar arrays with aplombFollow @pvenezia
I ran a slew of performance tests on this array, including the aforementioned nbench tests. I also ran my not-really-patented four-day stress test, which involves creating a 1TB LUN (logical unit number), mounting that LUN on a Linux server and writing 1TB in 2GB files from /dev/zero, deleting all files, then starting again. Rinse and repeat for four days, and see what breaks. In this case, nothing broke, and the average write speed was 95MBps across all iterations, with total data transfers well over 10TB.
Everyone into the (storage) pool
As I mentioned, configuring the PS3800XV is a blindingly simple task. For the initial setup, EqualLogic ships a universal plug-and-play configuration client with the unit. When a bare unit is powered up, this utility finds it and runs the ground-up configuration, stepping the user through all necessary options. It’s essentially the same as plugging into the serial console on one of the controllers and running through the initial configuration there, but without all the hassles of finding the right serial cable only to discover that your brand-new laptop doesn’t have a serial port.
EqualLogic’s architecture is based around array grouping, collecting one or more arrays into a management group that can be administered collectively from the same console. You also add capacity and manage tiered storage with this method. All of this is done through the PS3800XV’s UI, which is the same Java application found on other EqualLogic arrays.
This GUI can manage any EqualLogic SAN array, and all existing array models can be combined into one storage pool. Storage tiering allows admins to leverage dissimilar arrays — for example, cheaper, slower SATA arrays such as the PS300E and the faster SAS-based PS3800XV— in the same pool. Configuration rules then dictate which volumes will exist on which array to ensure that high I/O apps get the speed they need and that space is available on slower arrays for long-term storage of less-utilized data.
I had no problems running the GUI within Firefox on Linux or Windows, Safari on Mac OS X, or Internet Explorer on Windows. The application also can be started as a Java Web Start app and run outside the browser on all those operating systems. Looking ahead, EqualLogic is preparing a software update for their arrays to provide thin provisioning later this year.
Spend for speed
The EqualLogic PS3800XV certainly isn’t the cheapest iSCSI array out there — in fact, it’s closer to the other end of the scale — but it represents the top end of the market with blazing performance, solid management tools, and more enterprise features than I have space to detail.
The density isn’t extreme, as it’s limited by the relatively small size of SAS drives, but the capability of mixing and matching larger SATA arrays with speedier SAS arrays makes for the best of both worlds. For infrastructures that don’t need 2Gb or 4Gb Fibre Channel (which is the majority of the market) iSCSI is the way to go, and EqualLogic is showing us all how it’s done.