Review: HP brings sizzle to Windows Storage Server

The HP StoreEasy 5530 puts serious muscle behind Windows file serving, Hyper-V virtualization, and SQL Server workloads

Reliable storage is a key building block for any enterprise application infrastructure. Traditionally, this translates into some type of network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN). With Windows Storage Server 2012, you get both NAS (CIFS/SMB) and SAN (iSCSI), along with the ability to leverage new SMB 3.0 features to bring seamless fail-over to Hyper-V and SQL Server workloads. With the Windows Storage Server 2012-based HP StoreEasy 5530, you get all that plus outrageous performance.

HP has stuffed a lot of hardware into this package. The StoreEasy 5530 consists of two HP ProLiant BL460c G7 blade servers, each equipped with one Intel E5620 Xeon processor and 24GB of memory. The Intel E5620 is a four-core processor capable of two threads per core. That gives you 16 threads in all for handling all the file processing you can throw at it. It would also be more than enough CPU and memory to support a few Hyper-V virtual machines. However, HP does not support running VMs on the StoreEasy box. This is strictly a storage platform. 

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Two storage options offer either large-form-factor (LFF) or small-form-factor (SFF) hard drives. The LFF option typically delivers more storage per drive at a lower cost, while the SFF drives offer higher performance but less total storage capacity. Each server blade comes with two 300GB 10K SFF drives, which are typically configured as a RAID 1 array for redundancy purposes. These are used primarily for boot and local storage.

On the networking side, multiple connection options include an HP NC365T PCIe quad-port gigabit server adapter card, an HP NC382m dual-port 1GbE multifunction BL-c adapter, and an HP NC553i dual-port FlexFabric 10GbE converged network adapter. That works out to four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two 10GbE ports per server blade. There's also an internal gigabit connection between the blades for the cluster heartbeat, and individual gig ports to each blade for out-of-band management.

My test unit came with 36 900GB 10K dual-port enterprise SAS drives for a total raw capacity of 32.4TB. Both storage blades have a 6Gbps dual-port SAS controller that includes 1GB of flash-backed write cache.

Not-so-easy setup
The first time you boot up the HP StoreEasy 5530 you'll be presented with an Initial Configuration Tasks (ICT) screen that leads you through a number of steps to configure the system. The ICT assumes the second node is powered up and operational and attempts to connect with it during initial configuration. If for some reason it can't connect with the second node, you'll have to perform a number of steps on that node using either a terminal connected directly to the blade server or using HP's iLO (Integrated Lights-Out) embedded management system.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Setup (10.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Management (20.0%)
Features (20.0%)
Performance (20.0%)
Availability (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
HP StoreEasy 5530 7.0 9.0 7.0 9.0 10.0 9.0 8.6
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