Six iSCSI SANs unleashed
Adaptec, Celeros, EqualLogic, Intransa, NetApp, and Rasilient move our megabytesFollow @pvenezia
Network Appliance has done a good job of integrating iSCSI into its seasoned filer line. The FAS3020c is full-featured and rock-solid, and NetApp's support is the stuff of legend, with reports of customers receiving replacement disks before they even knew that a disk in their filer had gone bad. Although it didn't post the best numbers in my performance tests, the FAS3020c is hard to beat.
Rasilient Rastor 4000
Rasilient's Rastor 4000 is a 3U, 15-spindle storage array incorporating redundant controllers within the chassis. In this way, it resembles the EqualLogic PS200E, but the comparisons don't go much further than that. When I unpacked the Rastor 4000, I immediately thought that the hot-swap trays were too flimsy. The release handles are made from thin plastic, and I feared that they might break during the seating or removal of a drive. Also, the construction tolerances in the chassis itself leave something to be desired: Drives don't always line up with their companions, leaving the array looking somewhat snaggletoothed. Looks aren't everything, however.
The Rastor 4000 is based on a custom Linux kernel, a trait shared by several units in the test, and it incorporates two separate controllers in the chassis. Each controller consists of a Pentium 4-based mainboard, contains a gigabyte of RAM, and boots from flash.
As with the other arrays, a brief console session to establish IP address information on the controllers led me to the Web GUI. The interface is notable for its simplicity, but it's not as intuitive as some of the others in the test. Volume creation and host presentation can leave you scratching your head, and CHAP authentication and selected IQN presentation parameters require some digging. There is also an interface for viewing the system status and modifying e-mail addresses that should receive alerts. What's missing is any form of alert-level configuration. It's either on or off, and the Rastor 4000 generates e-mail alerts fairly regularly, which can get annoying -- 18 e-mails are sent every time the system boots. It would be nice to be able to configure alert levels per address.
In the performance testing, the Rastor 4000 held its own through many of the tests, with a solid showing near the middle of the pack, but faltered in the streaming read and write tests under Windows. The same tests under Linux went more smoothly, with the Rastor turning in a solid performance. As with all of the other arrays, tweaking could potentially drive these numbers up.
The Rastor 4000 supports snapshots, but it doesn't offer snapshot allocation settings or the ability to mark snapshots read/write -- snapshots can only be read. The Rastor 4000 managed a controller failure well, turning in a sub-30-second fail-over time that was handled smoothly by both Linux and Windows.
In the end, the Rasilient Rastor 4000 is a capable storage array and a fully redundant iSCSI target, but it simply lacks finesse. The Rastor would be more attractive if it were constructed with a little more attention to detail.
On target with iSCSI