Exclusive: NetApp crowns new entry-level storage array king
High-capacity FAS2020 raises bar for manageability, performanceFollow @infoworld
NetApp today is announcing new heirs to the thrones of its entry-level storage arrays, the FAS250 and FAS270. These crown princes, the FAS2020 and the FAS2050, yield more capacity, better performance, and improved manageability -- at a similar or lower price.
[ Network Appliance FAS2020 was selected for an InfoWorld Technology of the Year award. See the slideshow to view all the winners in the storage category. ]
I got an early exclusive look at the FAS2020, which can mount as many as 12 SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives of any capacity in a 2U chassis. Using external modules, the array can expand to a total of 40 drives, including SATA. Those 40 drives bring its total capacity to 24TB, well above what was possible with the older models.
The FAS2020 offers concurrent FC (Fibre Channel) and iSCSI connectivity via single or dual controller. Each controller mounts two 4Gb FC and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which, together with the unified storage capabilities of the ONTAP OS, makes the 2020 a target for concurrent access via file- and block-oriented protocols
As a point of comparison, the newly unveiled FAS2050 is a step above the 2020, delivering more than 100 drives when fully configured, plus 4GB of cache memory. And these machines, compared to their predecessors, offer not only higher capacity, but better performance with twice the number of FC and Ethernet ports. The new Remote Platform Management feature -- the first of its kind that I've seen to come bundled with storage servers -- is rich icing on the cake.
Hurray for array manageability
My test environment included an IBM E326 server, VMware ESX 3.0.1, plus a FAS2020 mounting 12 SAS drives, each with 144GB capacity and spinning at 15K RPM. No expansion modules. Both the array and the server were connected to a 2Gb FC switch and a GigE switch. Two guest machines running Windows Server 2003 played the role of Active Directory controller and Exchange server for my evaluation
One of my first evaluation steps was to tackle the built-in Remote Platform Management, an interesting new feature that simplifies controlling and monitoring the array's status over IP, exactly as you do with an application server. It also acts a powerful diagnostic tool that is independent from the ONTAP OS. Making it work only requires an IP address. No storage array should be without a similar option.
Starting PuTTY from a command window, I was able to connect and log in to the array controllers, which opened a variety of commands, including power cycling the machine, checking voltage and temperature of its components, and browsing the event log for errors. You can also set up automated e-mail notification when one of the hardware components needs attention.
For high-level management, I had FilerView, accessed by pointing my browser at the IP address of the FAS2020. This old suite of applications opens the door to just about any administrative task, including monitoring the hardware, provisioning storage, setting snapshots, and creating share for file-based access via CIFS or NFS.