Dell bulks up storage appliance
Dell PowerVault MD3000i adds iSCSI to already solid applianceFollow @infoworld
On September 10, Dell is adding a new iSCSI storage array to its portfolio: the PowerVault MD3000i -- a fully redundant enclosure that can pack dual power supplies, dual RAID controllers and 15 SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives in 2U. Two expansion modules can bring the overall capacity to 45 drives, which, by year’s end should also include SATA drives. At rollout, the MD3000i supports SAS drives only.
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Dell appropriately positions the MD3000i as a step up from the SATA-only AX150/i and as a more affordable option than the entry-level Clariion models. Each controller of the unit carries dual Gigabit Ethernet and a separate management port, which in full configuration offers the choice between the combined transfer rate of four iSCSI connections and the resilience of active fail-over.
For my evaluation I received an MD3000i with two controllers and fifteen 73GB, 15K RPM SAS drives. My test unit also had Disk Copy and Snapshots, two optional features that make it possible to take as many as 128 snapshots and make 255 systemwide disk copies.
Starting with wizards
Setting up the array didn’t take long. I connected each GigE port to one of my four servers. Next, I connected the two management ports to a separate subnet. While powering on, the array automatically acquired an IP address for its management ports.
To manage the array, you install the MDSM (Modular Disk Storage Manager) application on at least one machine. From this application you can do major management activities such as configuring the array, provisioning storage, and monitoring hardware. All those tasks are easy to find by opening the GUI’s well-organized tabs.
After a quick install, I instructed MDSM to automatically discover the array. In a few seconds the array was found and under control. Next, I assigned IP addresses consistent with my SAN to its four data ports and set them to use jumbo frames for better performance.
To help you become productive quickly, the MDSM has numerous wizards that make configuration choices with little human intervention. For example, choosing automatic configuration will create four virtual disks assigning a hot spare but let you choose the RAID level from 0,1,3, or 5 . Assign each of the virtual disks to its host and you are ready to go.
Smart features with some exceptions
The MDSM GUI, while helpful, doesn’tcover all the possible administrative tasks. Some activities, such as recovering from some intricate error conditions, are available only via CLI, but the GUI simplifies command-line tasks with a Recovery Guru wizard that suggests clear steps to guide the admin’s actions. During my evaluation I had to type commands only twice and both times the Recovery Guru passed me a cheat sheet.